News of FujiFilm’s excellent mirror-less camera, the X-T1, made it down the vine and really peaked my interest in researching the X-series cameras that they’ve released. I’ve had other photographer friends that have picked up the very popular X100s and the X-Pro1 and loved it. I’m thinking of buying one from the X-Series and of course, had to do some research. What I found was the X-T1’s little brother, the X-E2. At an average of almost $400 cheaper than the X-T1, I felt that it was also worth taking a look at.
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My requested setup consisted of the following—
This review is based purely off of my experience with the cameras, if you’re looking for other tech specs, then you’re more than welcome to check the links above.
So, why this specific setup?
I wanted to compare these bodies to my Canon 5D Mark III in practical terms—meaning that I’d use it just like I would have used my 5D—and figured that I’d have to match lenses as well, the lenses being Canon’s 85mm f/1.2L and the 24mm f/1.4L.
The X-T1 is the newest in FujiFilm’s line up and the X-E2 (Firmware 2.0) is the closest sibling to it! Both have very similar, powerful guts. They both boast a 16MP X-Trans II Sensor, which to me is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that must mean it’s awesome. And it is.
The Firmware 2.0 is important just because FujiFilm made some tweaks to the X-E2 to make it effectively more awesome and kind of like a free upgrade towards the X-T1. It makes the viewfinder more responsive and adds some pretty rad features that most people wouldn’t use but are totally awesome to have access to, if you do know what you’re doing.
Both bodies have a crop factor of 1.5x. Which means that in order to know the equivalent focal length on 35mm/full frame cameras and get close to what I typically use, the focal length on any lens that is attached to this camera needs to be multiplied by 1.5.
The lenses aren’t the focus today, but I needed them to match up to what I used in order to get a pretty good feel for it. The 56mm is effectively an 85mm lens, perfect for me in terms of portraits, and the 18mm turns into a 26mm (or 27mm according to FujiFilm) which is great for me to use as a random walk around lens on the street. It’s not exactly the same as my Canon system, but it’s sure close enough. The R just means that there’s a ring that has the aperture on the lens in case you’re wondering.
Shot in the daylight studio
Note: These images have been edited by my normal workflow. There aren’t any notable differences between the bodies in terms of image quality, so I threw them all together… also any blurriness is attributed to my quick shooting and not the camera.
Okay. Let me throw this out there. The X-T1 is definitely what I want and I feel that it is perfect for me! Keep that “for me” part in mind.
The camera is built pretty dang well. The camera has a pretty solid build, and has some cool semi-pro features on it like weather sealing, and that’s including the somewhat flimsy dedicated SD card slot cover. Even when it’s mated to the bigger XF 56mm, it maybe weighs just as much as a clean diaper. I do most of my shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III mated to the 85mm 1.2L, which weighs as much as a newborn baby… with full load in the diaper. I hope that puts things into perspective. So yeah, it’s light.
Functionality is great, but did take a bit of time to get used to, especially if you’re used to shooting on Manual on a full size DSLR. It was a bit harder for me to navigate under pressure when I took it off autopilot. The analog dials sent me back to my older film cameras and made for some pretty good access to convenient features like ISO. I should mention that the X-T1 doesn’t have a built in flash—but if it had one, I probably wouldn’t use it much. Not that it’s bad, it’s just not my style.
The electronic viewfinder was amazing! I’m not a super big fan of using the big and spacious 3.0” LCD for shooting, perhaps I’m just classic like that, but perhaps in the future I will. The viewfinder is just as crisp as the LCD, and provides a really responsive experience when looking through it.
The layout of the camera was seemingly cramped. Alright, that’s not really fair… what can I really expect from a camera that makes the 5D look bloated? The layout is actually awesome. The buttons are in logical positions and basically makes sense. It was a little overwhelming at first, but once I got more familiar with the camera, the more incredible I thought this camera was.
The sad part about this little guy is that the one I used was part of the first batch of X-T1 cameras that had a defective D-pad. It was squishy, not clicky, and didn’t respond too well at all. Thankfully though, the people at FujiFilm are aware of this and have fixed it in the newer batches.
Okay, let me throw this out there as well. The X-E2 definitely also is a camera that I would own—if I felt that I wanted to mindlessly shoot pictures and not really want to fuss with settings.
Although that sounds bad, I really like this camera! This camera has a more simplistic layout than that of its newer brother. It has less knobs and I feel that it caters to more of the point-and-shoot type of person that loves to be in the moment and capturing awesome pictures right away. It has a cute little pop-up flash that reminds me of the little Pixar lamp. Really though, regardless of the cuteness, it takes pictures just as well as the X-T1, as I hope you’d expect.
The camera is probably lighter than the X-T1, but for all intents and purposes, I’ll say that it weighs just as much as the X-T1—placing also in the featherweight class in my mind. It is noticeably smaller than the X-T1 and resembles a rangefinder camera instead of a mini-DSLR. Just because I mentioned the SD card placement of the X-T1, I’ll make note that the card slot is where it normally is found on most point and shoot cameras, in the battery compartment.
The layout of the camera was overall pretty good. I didn’t feel as overwhelmed when looking at this camera or even playing with it. The electronic viewfinder was just as good as the X-T1, but slightly smaller. I guess that firmware update contained steroids for this little guy’s viewfinder, especially since this camera was released in October of 2013. The location of it was a little different for me to get used to. It’s placed on the left side of the body instead of the center (when you’re looking at it from the rear).
These cameras are well known for their beautiful film simulated pictures in JPEG. I wanted test things out in RAW to know if these cameras could replace my everyday workflow! For your reference, I shoot portraits and random street stuff occasionally, so try to keep that in mind while I go through some of the things that were mentioned. Although there’s a lot of aspects of this camera that could be appealing to other types of shooters, unfortunately, I can’t comment regarding those.
When I shoot people, I typically am in control of the light and have some time to adjust what I need to in camera. This time, I was in my daylight studio, otherwise known as my awesome apartment, and I felt like I needed to have quick access to the main three contributors to exposure in order to combat the sun—shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. The X-T1 made it pretty easy for me to switch on the fly, whereas the X-E2 made me fumble a bit more, especially when setting the ISO. The convenience of the analog dial on the X-T1 was definitely missed when I switched over to the X-E2 under the changing daylight. The images at the top of the article are from this shoot.
When I was walking about doing some street photography with some friends, both cameras functioned extremely well and blew me away on the brainless settings! I don’t typically shoot on auto, but I was blown away by how well the camera handled the situations. Seriously, both cameras were very impressive! I did end up have a small issue with camera shake, but that was on my own part and on the 56mm. I blame it on physics.
Autofocus was super quick and exposure was typically pretty good. Switching back and forth between manual and autofocus was made easy by a switch on both cameras. Both have an on demand focus button on the back of the camera that will activate the autofocus even when the camera is set to manual focus. That provided a pretty good starting point every time.
For some reason, reviewing pictures on the X-T1 took a longer time to access compared to the X-E2. Both used the same card and both shot in RAW, which I found to be rather strange. Speaking of reviewing pictures, both cameras have a neat function to note. You can have the option to review the pictures in the viewfinder itself!
Both cameras recorded really sharp images. They definitely didn’t let me down and the files held up really well in post processing—just as expected. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in images shot with either camera with the same settings.
Snapshots from the Street
So what would I get?
I know I already covered this, but if I had to get one, I’d get the X-T1, in fact, I’m very much contemplating replacing my 5D with this camera.
I say that mainly for my style of shooting and how much I typically access settings on the fly. I also like having the security of weather-sealing. Those who are familiar with what I write know that I’m not a big fan of the dust here in Vegas. I don’t need a flash, but many of you do or would prefer it. To those, I’d recommend the X-E2 to you.
There are some extra features that I enjoy that are on the X-T1 that aren’t on the X-E2: dual view mode (lets you see the big image and a smaller magnified view for manual focusing), bigger electronic viewfinder, two wheels to adjust settings (one on the back and one on the front), a little more real estate for a grip and a flip out LCD (just cool to have, although I never use them).
I can justify the price difference to myself pretty easily: I could just use the camera to do another shoot and make some extra cash that would offset the price.
Of course though, I’m always on a budget, so I’m thinking perhaps I could live with the image quality of the X-T1 in the X-E2 but deal with the small differences.
The X-E2 is a fantastic camera, and for the price difference, I think it’s a viable choice for most if not all of you who are looking into getting into a mirror-less camera.
It would suit most of the needs of amateur photographers who want something compact and functionally fun—not forgetting that you might end up looking like a hipster… that’s a good thing right?
Either way, if you’re searching for a mirror-less camera, try both of these out… then get one!
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