Image Performance, Conclusion
The sample photographs were shot with the Fujifilm X-E2. The originals have not been post-processed, are saved in AdobeRGB, and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for full-resolution images.
The X-Trans sensor continues to be the best and worst thing about Fujifilm’s X-series. At its best, it delivers pictures full of detail and color; at its worst you get odd color smearing and edge halos, and it’s no different with the X-Trans II sensor on the X-E2.
First introduced in the X-Pro1, the X-Trans sensor is different; using a sensor which spreads the RGB pixels with a higher degree of randomness than usual, the X-Trans sensor does away with the optical low-pass filter, allowing it to capture more detail and reduce the chances of moiré (we explained the X-Trans sensor in more detail in our X-Pro1 review).
With the X-Trans II sensor, the X-E2 is capable of delivering remarkable detail. But the 18-55mm kit lens, while usable, looks too soft to unlock the sensor’s full potential. Colors are rich - Fujifilm certainly knows color. But if you zoom in close, you can spot the odd patchwork artifacts which seem to be a prevalent problem with the X-Trans sensor, as well as some color smearing and halos around the edges of subjects.
Images look remarkably clean even at high ISO settings. I’d shoot up to ISO 3200, which is the upper limit for a balance of detail loss and image noise. Even at ISO 6400, the image looks clean but there’s a noticeable loss of detail. In the end, the X-E2 presents the same conundrum as with previous Fujifilm X-Trans cameras; do you want to get incredible detail, lush colors and low image noise but at the risk of odd rendering artifacts? It’s a trade-off that I wish didn’t have to do be made, but it is what it is.
The Fujifilm X-E2 is really good for one kind of user, and really bad for others. If you enjoy going hands-on with your camera and having control at your fingertips, you’d like using the X-E2. If you want something that’s really good at automatic, it’s better to move on.
That said, while the X-E2 brings some good incremental improvements to the X-series, we do wish that Fujifilm eventually steps up its game and does an overhaul of its UI, radically improves its AF and brings touch control to the rear monitor. Because while I enjoy using the camera in spite of its drawbacks, it would be so much better if they weren’t there.
The best thing about the X-E2 however, isn’t the camera itself, but how Fujifilm seems to be committed to developing the X system. The lenses are sharp, and the primes are fast. Fujifilm also seems to be listening to customer feedback more than most, and continues to update past cameras with new firmware - a rare practice in the world of cameras.
The last word about the X-E2 is the point made in the image performance section of this review. Two years on, the X-Trans sensor continues to be remarkable in the clarity of its images. It also continues to have odd rendering artifacts. If you’re looking at getting this camera you have to ask yourself if you think the trade-off is worth it. For what it’s worth, I’d easily be okay with that. The Fujifilm X100S remains one of my favorite cameras of the year, and the X-E2 is basically that minus the optical viewfinder but with the ability to swap lenses.