Fuji xe2 Review, The Perfect Budget Camera!

Fuji xe2 review in photography with travel photographer Lorenz Berna

Fuji xe2 Review

Fujifilm xe2 : The Perfect Budget Camera –

[  Fuji xe2 review & photos by Lorenz Berna  ]

The Fujifilm xe2 was the camera that made me fall in love with the fuji x system.
Pure fun and great results!
The possibility of creating excellent images, the very light weight and the interchangeable lenses are the great advantages of this camera, conceived and developed by Fuji for photographers looking for an essential and minimalist approach to photography.

I want to be honest by telling you that this has been my favorite digital camera since I left the Film. It really gave me instantly that pure joy I felt in my early days as a photographer, starting with argentic camera. So it is quite a pleasure for me, to give you my personal Fuji xe2 review, after a long off-road use of it.

Hot air baloons rising over Bagan - Myanmar travel photography by Lorenz Berna
Hot air baloons rising over Bagan Temples area at sunrise, Myanmar - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 55-200

I have used the Fuji xe2 extensively for three years until I switch to the xe3, taking it with me through Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Israel and Tuscany. Because I still believe so much in this camera, I decided to write a review for the people who do not have a big budget but are interested in taking great quality images.

Cambodian kids cycling in Kampot countryside - Cambodia Travel Photography
Kids cycling in Kampot countryside, Cambodia - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 35mm f1.4

With a price in the second hand market of about $ 350, the fuji xe2 is in my opinion one of the best cameras in circulation to be taken into serious consideration if you want to save money. Coupled it with the fantastic kit zoom xf 18-55 2.8/4 and a fixed fast lens of choice, it is a perfect solution for those who love lightness and image quality by spending little.

Shwedagon Paya in Yangon by night - Myanmar Photography by Lorenz Berna
The Swdagon Paya in Yangon, Myanmar - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 14mm f2.8

FUJI XE2 SPECIFICATIONS

The Fujifilm X-E2 is a mirrorless camera with a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor produced from 2013 to 2016 and today out of production, having been replaced by xe2-s and xe3.

The sensitivity range, including extension, is 200 – 6400 ISO and can take a burst of 7 FPS.

Sigirya from Pidurangala rock, Sri Lanka by travel photographer Lorenz Berna
Sigiriya Rock from from Pidurangala, Sri-Lanka -Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 18-135

As always in these cases, small cameras with electronic viewfinder equal to small battery performance (300 shoots), so better bring extra ones in your pocket. On the web, there are some compatible batteries like the ‘ChiliPower’ or the ‘Patona’ that are very good and cost a fraction of the originals.

Gecko hanging on a branch of Bougainville - Cambodia Travel Photography by Lorenz Berna
Gecko hanging on a branch of Bougainville, Cambodia - Fujifilm xe2 +Fuji xf 55-200

The sensor is a Sony-made 16MPx APS-C with the X-Trans filter in front, plus a phase- detection autofocus to the benefit of focusing speed -expecially with the firmware update Ver. 4.00. This is the same sensor already seen and appreciated on the X100S and the X-T1, capable of taking fine details even in low light conditions.

Hot air balloon at sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar travel photography by photographer Lorenz Berna
Hot air balloon at sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 55-200

FUJI XE2 IN HAND

Those who appreciate the traditional style cameras will be pleased with the Fuji xe2 wich is a nice camera  to hold and use as well as aesthetically speaking. Neither too small nor too large, when combined with lenses of small size for example 18mm, 27mm and 35mm, it still quite compact. Although it is not possible to put it in a pocket, you can settle it without too much trouble in a classic shoulder bag or, in winter, in the pockets of a jacket. The front and the upper cap are made of magnesium alloy; back and buttons are instead in polycarbonate.

On the whole, it is a real pleasure to play with it without the feeling at all of having a toy in hands.

Phnom Penh pier, Cambodia Travel Photography
Phnom Penh pier, Cambodia - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 18mm f2

Those who have already used Fuji x-series cameras will be immediately well at ease with the Fujifilm xe2, given the substantial uniformity of the commands and buttons between the various models;

Smiling Khmer woman - Cambodia Travel Portraits by photographer Lorenz Berna
Smiling Khmer woman, Cambodia - Fuji xe2 + Fuji xf 18mm f2

However, in general, the user interface appears reasonably structured and we could verify that even people with early experience with Fuji, taken the xE2, did not take long to become familiar with the essential commands of the camera. Moreover, the minimalistic philosophy makes the use of the xE2 very intuitive and quite spontaneous.

Portrait of videographer Artyvelle by Lorenz Berna
Portrait of Artyvelle - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 23mm f2

It should be noted that some Fujifilm lenses have the aperture ring whereas others, like the 27mm and those of the XC series, no. With the optics equipped with ring :
-setting “A” on both the lens ring and on the E2 one, works in Program;
-setting “A” on the lens and selecting a shutter speed on camera, you work in Shutter Priority;
-setting “A” on the camera ring and any aperture value on the lens, works in Aperture Priority.
By manually setting times and diaphragms, finally, you work in Manual mode.

Vineyards in Tuscany countryside - Italy Landscape Photography by Lorenz Berna
Vineyards in Tuscany countryside, Italy - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 18-55

With the optics without aperture ring, the logic is the same. The only difference is that rather than acting on the lens ring, you work on the small ring on the back of the E2 – that, in fact, adjusts the aperture diaphragms and which at the end of the stroke, also includes the value “A”.

Rainbow over Castelfranco, Italy Photography.
Rainbow over Castelfranco, Italy - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 23mm f2

The Q button on the back allows you to recall some shooting parameters, to be able to check and eventually modify them on the fly.

Moreover, it is possible to attribute some more commonly used settings to the four customizable buttons (Fn, Fn2, plus the two buttons originally dedicated to the AF block and the exposure).

Snow storm at sunrise in Chianti - Italy Landscape Photography by Lorenz Berna
Snow storm at sunrise in Chianti/Tuscany, Italy -Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 55 200

The electronic viewfinder is of good quality, although I would have liked to have a deeper Eyepiece.
Who wears glasses will often have to use one free hand to shade his/her eyes, especially on particularly bright days. If it is still feasible while using light optics, it is certainly not the best way to ensure stability and therefore sharpness while using heavier lenses and voluminous zooms.

The Dome of the Rock at Twilight, Jerusalem - Israel Travel Photography by Lorenz Berna
Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock at Twilight, Israel - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 55-200

IN THE FIELD : Fujifilm xe2 Real World Review

We are certainly not in presence of a recent mirrorless model, packed with the latest technologies, but the AF of the xE2 has never disappointed me. Always fast enough and accurate to cover many shooting situations. Even in low light, it did not particularly show the rope, guaranteeing more than dignified performances.

Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel Travel Photography by Lorenz Berna
Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel - Fujifilm xe2 + Samyang 12mm f2

The manual focus, thanks to the clear monitor, is quite easy to use. It is also possible to simplify it by enabling the “peaking” (colored pixels that highlight the areas in focus) or using the “split image” mode, a bit like in the stigmometers of the viewfinders at the time of the film cameras (there were two prisms “breaking” the image, which was “recomposed” only when in focus. This was the principle of the so-called “broken image viewfinders”).

Sunset on the dead sea at Ein Bokek, Israel
Salt formations on the Dead Sea after Sunset in Ein Bokek, Israel - Fujifilm xe2 + Samyang 12mm f2

Focus aside, the xE2 is a practical and quick camera to use.
Two separate buttons for AE and AF block, customizable (plus two other “Fn” keys that can be customized, as mentioned), one with direct access to select the focusing point, a button (“Q”) that allows view the main settings on the fly and, acting on the rear dial, to quickly recall up to 7 custom configurations. All these combined, we have a good a set of commands with which we can work effectively, once in confidence.
Also, considering that we are talking about a mirrorless concept of 2013 the xE2 is still a camera fast enough to shoot, write files, and scroll through the various menus.

Palestinian street food near Jaffa gate - Jerusalem Street Photography
Palestinian street food near Jaffa gate in Jerusalem, Israel - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 23 f2

IMAGE QUALITY

In terms of image quality, the Fujifilm xE2 never disappointed any of my expectations.
In my opinion, the noise reduction applied by default on JPG is a bit ‘aggressive (I personally recommend setting it to a minimum and leave it like this, to reduce the impact of this in-room intervention). Apart from that, there is very little to say, in terms of negative points.
Fuji optics are excellent and, thanks to software corrections, the results are always good from all points of view: resolving, aberrations, distortion, colors and dynamic range. Especially when combined with prime lenses or the red badge zooms, the Fuji xE2 really give great satisfactions.

Silhouettes by sunset on Negombo beach - Sri Lanka Travel Photography by Lorenz Berna
Silhouettes by sunset on Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 23mm f2
Cambodian women going to work on board of common Tuk-Tuk - Cambodia Travel Photography by Lorenz Berna
Women going to work on board of a common Tuk-Tuk, Cambodia - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 18mm f2

Two words on the dynamic range. The Fuji xE2 offers two setting parameters: the “DR” (Dynamic range “) and the film simulation. The first acts on the highlights (three levels are possible: 100, 200 and 400), trying to recover them as much as possible. On the other hand, the film simulations concerns the tonal curve as well as the color rendering.

Cambodian girl cycling. Kampot, Cambodia
Local young woman cycling over the old bridge in Kampot, Cambodia - Fujifilm xe2 + Samyang 12mm f2

The standard Color Setting is called Provia. There are also the Astia mode (soft, ideal for portraits), Velvia (saturated), Classic Chrome, Sepia, different modes for the BN, and two Pro Negative modes (with standard or higher contrast). Finally when we shoot in raw, it is possible to globally set the levels of Shadows and Highlights, change the film simulations, color saturation and other parameters in order to create a jpeg in camera ready to use.

By appropriately combining these three groups of parameters it is possible to test their overall effect and adjust accordingly to evaluate how to configure the camera according to personal tastes and shooting conditions.

Travel portrait in Cambodia - Travel Photography
Travel portrait in Cambodia - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 35mm f1.4

CONCLUSIONS

Needless to repeat here, the Fujifilm XE2 is undoubtedly a very good camera, that allowed me to do lots of good photos for the three years that I have been using this camera. The fact remains that the 16 mpx Fuji xe2 (for those who can sleep at night knowing that they have only 16mpx instead of 24, 36 or even 50), coupled with fixed lenses or the pro fujinon zoom, can really guarantee excellent results almost in every field of application. This, spending nowadays a very reasonable amount of money as well as not having huge and heavy equipment to carry around.

Tea picker at a plantation in Ella, Sri Lanka
Tea picker at a plantation in Ella, Sri Lanka - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 10-23

I think this is a real camera, made for serious photographers who really care about the vision and the possibilities in the field that this camera can open-up. Expecially for street and travel photographers with low budget. Of course you can have better but, as in all the cases, you must always ask yourself three questions: Does it cover my needs? Do I like the images it produces? And finally: How much does it cost me/Is it in my budget?

Sunrise from Mihintale Sri Lanka.
Sunrise from Mihintale Sri Lanka - Fujifilm xe2 + Fuji xf 35mm f1.4

To finish, one thing I can totally guarantee you, is that this camera can turn you in a happy photographer who really enjoy taking pictures as you may never have done before…

That’s it for now, hope this has been helpful somehow.

Be Happy, stay in Focus and Travel more.

– Lorenz –

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