Fuji X-E2 (fw 4.0) as 2nd Camera to X-T1

**Updated 4/2016**

After several months with the X-E2, I find it frustrating as a 2nd camera for how I shoot event photography. It would be fine for other photography — maybe a dedicated b/w body with a specialty lens, maybe a home or studio body — but two very different bodies for event photography causes too many issues. See end for details.

I have been fed up with not having a 2nd Fuji body for quite some time now. I find it unproductive when you are very busy shooting tight shots at an event (like a play or orchestra concert):

  1. to have to switch lenses to capture wide shots,
  2. and then have to switch lenses back to get back to shooting tight.

So many shots missed. Done that. Hate it.

After much deliberation, I opted for a used X-E2 to compliment my X-T1:

  • for the lower cost over a used X-T10
  • to try out the rangerfinder design everyone is raving about.

Here are some first impressions.

I first got my X-E2 prior to the release of Firmware 4.0 on 2/4/16. Most of the review still applies (physical attributes), and I noted where Firmware 4.0 makes a difference. See this announcement for more information. Essentially, Firmware 4.0 addresses all the issues I have that aren’t physical.

Spoiler alert: It is just different with a few limitations (and I still personally prefer the X-T1).

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X-E2 vs X-T1 back-600 hq.jpg

X-E2 vs X-T1 top-600 hq.jpg

Controls

Since getting an X-T1 several months ago, I have had time to get use to having a dial for every control that I frequently use and was quickly frustrated by not having those dials available on the X-E2.

I didn’t realize until getting the X-E2, how often I set the controls on my X-T1 before I even turned it on. On the X-E2, you can’t adjust the drive or metering mode without going into a menu (via dedicated buttons on the left).

  • On an X-E2, it is press button, scroll to selection, press set
  • On an X-T1, it is turn knob.

Plus, there is only one finger (thumb) dial (there isn’t one on the front like the X-T1). These’s aren’t breakers for me, but it is definitely a different workflow.

The shutter speed dial on the X-E2 is slightly shorter and slightly harder to grip than on the X-T1. Not a deal-breaker for me as I don’t manually change shutter speed that often.

EV dial

The exposure compensation dial on the X-E2:

  • Is tighter and more recessed than on the X-T1 probably because it is more exposed on the X-E2 (and I read that the X-E1 EV dial was easy to turn accidentally). It isn’t horribly tight, but it does surprise me every time.
  • Is only accessible with your thumb. This is much harder than on my X-T1 which I can grip with my thumb and index finger.

I notice this most when I’m shooting an event and make EV adjustments which I frequently do in difficult lighting.

  • On my X-T1, I naturally pinch my shutter release finger and thumb around the EV dial. It’s a tiny move and back.
  • but on my X-E2, I have to move my trigger finger to the front of the body to support the thumb to press hard enough to move the EV dial (remember, the EV dial is also tighter so tougher to turn). No big deal when I’m shooting slow (like stills, architecture,landscape, etc), but a problem in event photography.

On the plus side, the back buttons are, indeed, easier to push, but I never found the X-T1’s back buttons hard to push (since I started out with an X-T1).

Shutter Noise

The shutter is slightly louder/firmer sounding than the X-T1. The sound is not as dampened.

This is only a problem when I am shooting the X-T1 in electronic shutter mode at a quiet event (like a Christmas Eve service) then use the X-E2 for a wide shot in continuous low/high.

*Added in Firmware 4.0*

  • *Important!* If you want complete silence, also turn off Shutter Sound in Sound Set-Up.
  • FYI If you turn off Sound & Flash, the flash will not fire. This is to make sure flashes do not go off if you use auto flash which is useful if you go someplace where flash is prohibited or discouraged.
  • and don’t forget to test artificial lighting for banding

Continuous Drive – Low

I still fire off two shots every time (I can shoot 1 frame pretty easily on my Canon 7D in Continuous Low).

On my X-T1, using the Continuous Drive in Low seems to fire off 2 photos so fast that I can’t imagine it actually shooting at 3fps. On the X-E2, it feels like it actually does shoot at 3fps (but I will have to test this more closely to say definitively).

EVF

Is smaller, but usable. Not as drastic a change from the X-T1 as I had feared (I had a slight fear).

For some reason, the EVF sometimes displays darker than the final image. I haven’t found a consistent reason yet, but it is maddening.

Printing on Dials

The shutter speeds are not as readable as on my X-T1, but not horribly different.

In-camera Panoramas

Working great just like on my X-T1. I’m glad that I spent a little more for an X-E2 over an X-E1 as I shoot sunrises and sunsets that require EV-3 to really get the colors. Yes, I could go manual, but who wants to spend all the time with controls (to set and then set back) rather than enjoying photography???

(My vote is to understand photography and have the equipment serve me.)

Image Quality

I’m not even going to post comparison shots. I did some informal testing and any differences are negligible.

Focus point select 

I use the focus point select a great deal and love that you can have the pad on the X-T1 dedicated to just focus point selection (rather than clicking on the bottom pad THEN selecting a focus point — do this a thousand times during an event and it wears thin). This was not an option on the X-E2. *Added in Firmware 4.0*

Focus performance 

Again negligible difference for static subjects (which will be its task as a 2nd body), but I wish that it had zone focus like the X-T1. *Added in Firmware 4.0*

Exposure 

I wish there was a way to interlock the focus point with the exposure point like I can on my X-T1. *Added in Firmware 4.0*

Gridlines 

A minor quibble of mine is that the gridlines are thick like they were on my X-T1 before Firmware 4.0. I can live with it, but it would be nice to have thinner lines. *Added in Firmware 4.0*

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X-E2 vs X-T1 front-600 hq.jpg

Subject’s view

When I was reviewing the product shots (like the one above), I was afraid that the large, flat section would draw more attention than the broken up front face of the X-T1 which, to me, gives the X-T1 the slight illusion of being narrower (they are the same width), but once in my hands and with a lens attached, this is not remotely an issue. The X-E2 looks small in person compared to the photo above.

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20151123 122512 IMG_9708 G15_DCE.jpg

Nose smudge

Since I began photography as a teenager, I have been left-eyed. Although other photographers have applauded the rangefinder design as been a nice change (for those right-eyed), I find that I now have a permanent nose smudge dead center on the back display.

I have not the words to properly describe how irritating this is!!! Just kidding. It’s not a deal breaker, but something that I never noticed with DSLRs or my X-T1 which have a central viewfinder so, presumably, the nose smudge is on the right edge or off the screen. But the smudge is not a problem — I usually have a microfiber cloth handy to take care of it or I smear the smudge away with my thumb.

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20151123 120908 IMG_9706 G15_DCE.jpg

Two camera backpack

Both cameras pack very well in my small Vanguard Adaptor 41 backpack. (the bodies are swapped in the above photo to show off the X-E2.)

  • Each with a lens mounted (18-55 and 50-230)
  • Each facing opposite directions (upward and downward)
  • A generic, medium-sized neoprene lens sleeve folded flat is used as a divider (I pulled it up a little to show the 2nd camera in the photo above).
  • The flat top of the X-E2 especially helps this setup, but I think two X-T1’s would work, too. I like the flat top so much, I’m thinking of NOT putting a soft release on it to keep it clean of things that could catch.
    • **Update** I ended up putting a convex (raised) soft release button on it (it has improved responsiveness immensely) and has not been a problem in the bag. Put a tiny dab of Loctite or super glue in the threads to avoid it coming off.
  • Either camera would fit in the top compartment with a short lens like the 18-55 without the lens hood facing forward.
  • And the bag fits at my feet in tight quarters like in these bleacher seats.

20160204 184113 DSCF1887 XT1_DCE

Daily use?

I’ve tried shooting with it exclusively to get use to the controls, and to see if it could be my daily camera, but it won’t feel right until I get a Fuji MHG-XE hand grip so:

  • It feels more comfortable in my hands (like my X-T1 does with Fuji’s MHG-XT large hand grip)
  • and so I can mount a Peak Design plate to the bottom to attach a PD sling strap without blocking the battery door

I’ll update this after I get the hand grip, but based on several limitations and differences between the X-T1 and X-E2, I would probably grab the X-T1 first in most cases.

**Update** The added grip and sling strap is nice. If I’m not shooting fast, I could use the X-E2 for everyday use (but I still prefer the X-T1).

Pseudo X100?

I’ve read about people who use their old X-E1 with a pancake lens and it being similar to using an X100. The idea sounds great to me, but when I tried shooting my 18-55mm at just 18mm and 23mm exclusively to see if I would enjoy turning the X-E2 into a pseudo X100, I didn’t enjoy it.* It’s just not how I shoot.

*grumpy-cat-01

And I really wanted this to work. I love just carrying my Canon G15 on a sling strap, and wanted a tiny Fuji with a pancake lens (they look just beautiful), but it just wouldn’t be fun for me. Maybe it would be different if I get an 18mm, but even then this pseudo X100 setup would still be missing the leaf shutter. (Oh, what first world problems I have! 🙂 )

Overall

As I wrote at the beginning, it is just different, and I think it will be an excellent 2nd body along with my X-T1, but the tough EV dial and smaller EVF make me glad that I use it less often than my X-T1.


**Update 4/2016**

Basically, after shooting an X-T1, an X-E2 is a frustrating 2nd camera for how I shoot event photography. Yes, it is technically capable of shooting the same high quality images as the X-T1, but its handing isn’t remotely the same. It reminds me of editing in GIMP vs editing in Photoshop. Save your pennies, get two X-T1’s. 

Problems with the X-E2 as a 2nd camera for event photography:

  • Can’t see as well in the relatively tiny EVF to see expressions of distant people
  • Holding the viewfinder up to my eye in portrait orientation requires my right arm to be so high that I feel like a chimpanzee scratching my head
  • Can’t easily compose overhead or low angle shots due to not having a tilt screen
  • No UHS-II support
  • Requires several button pushes to change drive or metering
  • It doesn’t matter if it is shooting wide or tight, something important is always slowing things down.

On paper, the cheaper X-T10 looks like it would compliment an X-T1, but the smaller EVF, lack of UHS-II card support, and lack of weather sealing would cause issues that prevent you from shooting at your best, so if you are anything like me, save your pennies and get two of the same camera. The X-T2 should be out soon so the used X-T1’s should drop in price.

Why didn’t I predict this when switching from my two camera DSLR setup?

Because my DSLRs are nothing like my X-T1. I had no idea how quickly I would depend on the efficiency of the X-T1 dials especially in fast moving event photography.

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