Sitting in the middle of the X-Series line-up, the X-E2S from Fujifilm is an update to the X-E2, which was released in autumn 2013. But a first look at the core spec doesn’t reveal any discernible differences between the two. They both share an identical sensor and processor, and there are only subtle modifications to the design. So can a camera with only modest updates tempt new custom, when buying the near-identical X-E2 will save you £150?
The X-E2S shares the same 16.3MP APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS II as its predecessor, which was designed without an optical low-pass filter for sharper detail. It’s paired with the original EXR Processor II, giving the camera a matching native ISO range of 200-6400, and this can be expanded to 100-51,200. As you’d expect with the same hardware, the X-E2S gives identical image quality to its forebear.
The X-E2S makes no advances on speed either. Both cameras have a top burst rate of 7fps, and at this pace the buffer can store 18 JPEGs, but when you slow the speed to 3fps the X-E2S can shoot to the card’s limit.
So what’s new? The Intelligent Hybrid AF system has been expanded from single-point mode (with 49 points) to now include the new zone and wide/tracking options with 77 points to keep a lock on moving subjects. But if you’ve recently bought an X-E2, don’t feel disheartened – a firmware update adds this feature to the older model.
There is a new electronic shutter which operates silently, and will expand your shutter speed to a maximum of 1/32,000sec, allowing for wide apertures in bright sunlight.
The front grip has been marginally enlarged to provide a more secure purchase while changing settings. The Fn2 button has been swapped for a new Auto mode button, to instantly assign the camera complete exposure control. There are also seven customisable function buttons that can be set up to suit your shooting needs.
As well as a fixed 1040k-dot 3in LCD, there’s a Real-Time Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) for framing up. It has an impressive 2360k-dot resolution and the world’s fastest display lag time of just 0.005sec.
If you want to instantly share your shots there’s built in Wi-Fi, allowing the X-E2S to be paired with a smart device via the free Fujifilm app. There’s also a variety of Film Simulation and Art Filters for expanding your creativity, and if you want to record movies the X-E2S can shoot Full HD at 60fps. Battery life is 350 frames per charge.
Build & handling
The rangefinder-style design is relatively compact without a lens attached, and the body is light at 350g. On the top-plate are two aluminium dials to control exposure compensation and shutter speed, plus a hotshoe and pop-up flash. The 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens is well constructed, and has an aperture control ring, focus ring and built-in image stabilisation. The newly-designed grip is comfortable to hold, and the button layout is ergonomic and intuitive. The EVF is large and bright with no trace of lag, and provides a more traditional shooting experience. It also displays the image captured within the viewfinder, so there’s no need to take your eye away from the action to check results.
Up to ISO 800 the X-E2S produces superb quality images that hold plenty of fine detail. Even at ISO 3200 noise isn’t particularly noticeable, with it only becoming more of an issue at ISO 6400. Even then, it’s nothing that a little bit of post-processing can’t resolve. The 18-55mm kit lens was equally impressive. Images were sharp throughout the zoom and aperture range, and we weren’t able to detect any defects like barrel distortion or coloured fringing.
The X-E2S is a decent mid-range mirrorless camera that produces pleasing image quality. It’s available for £549 (body only), or £749 if you also want the kit lens. But when you take into account the X-E2 is priced at £399 (body only), some may question why you’d spend the extra when the differences are so subtle. A better option would be to purchase the X-E2 and simply apply the firmware update.
- Camera: Fujifilm X-E2S
- Street price: £549 (body only price as of August 2016)
- Effective resolution: 16.3MP
- Sensor: 23.6×15.6mm APS-C X-Trans CMOS II
- Processor: EXR Processor II
- Kit lens: 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS XF
- LCD: 3in 1040k-dot
- Viewfinder: 0.5in 2360k-dot OLED
- Autofocus: Hybrid (49-point in single AF,
- 77-point in wide/tracking AF)
- ISO: 200-6400 (expands to 100-51,200)
- Shutter speed: 30sec-1/4000sec
- Shooting speed: 7fps for 18 JPEGs
- Video: Full HD at 60fps
- Pop-up flash: Yes
- Other features: Wi-Fi, HDMI & USB 2.0
- Battery life: 350 shots
- Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Size (WxHxD): 129×75×37mm
- Weight: 350g
- Web: www.fujifilm.eu
This review was first published in the May 2016 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.