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Fujifilm X-E2S: What you need to know

Introduction

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The Fujifilm X-E2S is essentially a Fujifilm X-E2 with firmware updates and some very minor tweaks. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad camera, or that people shouldn’t consider it. Over the course of doing a thorough review (or at least as thorough as we could justify, since so much of the camera is a known quantity), I came away with some observations – some of which you’d miss if if you were just skimming the review, or reading through the key specifications.

So in case you missed it, let’s take a quick look back at some of our findings with the Fujifilm X-E2S.

The fun factor

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I don’t always want to bring cameras I review to my friends’ barbecues. But I did want to bring the X-E2S. Fujifilm XF 27mm F2.8. ISO 200, 1/250 sec, F2.8.

The most important thing to note about the Fujifilm X-E2S is that it’s a camera that you’ll want to pick up and just go shooting with. Its retro styling isn’t to everyone’s taste, but most people that see it will think it looks ‘cool.’ The buttons have great feedback, and to for the photographer with some experience, the old-school shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation dials are a natural and easy way to take control of the camera. As for the newbie who just grabbed it because of the new, lower MSRP, the ‘Auto’ button on the back will ensure he or she can enjoy shooting right away, while all those other controls make for an excellent camera to grow in to. Although the menus are a bit laggy, the abundant customizable controls will limit the time you’ll need to spend in them. 

In the end, this camera is just fun to use, which means you’ll want to take it with you more often, which means you’re going to end up taking more photographs. That’s never a bad thing.

The JPEGs

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Straight-out-of-camera JPEG using the Classic Chrome film simulation. Fujifilm XF 27mm F2.8 lens. ISO 2500, 1/125 sec, F2.8.

Take a Google stroll across the World Wide Web, and you’ll see heaps of both praise and disdain being hurled at Fujifilm’s JPEG engine. As for us? We’re big fans. Not only do you get lots of adjustment parameters, you can get quick access to them to boot using the custom-settings banks (although these also save your ISO parameters, which we’re not such big fans of). The cherry on top is Fujifilm’s selection of film simulations. Don’t be fooled, they won’t necessarily give you transparent, true-to-life colors (Classic Chrome used above is a good example), but they have a certain richness and personality to them that we find oddly addictive. Some people will still struggle with waxy skin tones at higher ISO values, but for the most part, we found we could get away without shooting Raws on the X-E2S.

The convenience 

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When you pop the XF 27mm F2.8 pancake lens on the Fujifilm X-E2S, you’ll have a combination that’s only slightly bigger than its fixed-lens sibling, the X100T. Sure, you get a slower maximum aperture with the pancake, but you also get a different field of view – and the 27mm is excellent wide-open. It’s a combination that’s unobtrusive and will let you get the X-E2S into venues where cameras with detachable lenses are generally not allowed, and your images will stand out from the masses and their smartphone snaps.

And speaking of smartphones, the built-in Wi-Fi on the X-E2S will allow you to share your images almost as quickly as if you were one of the masses shooting with a smartphone. The size and Wi-Fi implementation alone make the X-E2S a convenient companion that still feels like a real camera.

The great kit lens 

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Out-of-camera JPEG using the Provia preset. Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 @ 55mm. ISO 200, 1/1500 sec, F4.

The Fujifilm X-E2S can be had with an XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 kit zoom lens, and although the price premium is higher than other manufacturers’ kit bundles, there’s a few clear reasons why. This kit lens is all metal, optically stabilized and has a solid feel to it without feeling heavy. The zoom, focus ring and aperture rings are all good-sized and well-damped. Lastly and most importantly, its maximum aperture varies from 2/3 of a stop to a full stop faster than most competitors’. Not only will this allow you to keep your ISO values that much lower in challenging lighting conditions, but it also contributes to an increased amount of background blur, and it must be said, the out-of-focus characteristics of this lens are very good. For people who aren’t able or don’t want to swap lenses or invest in a collection, this is a kit lens that could be their only lens without regret.

The whole package

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Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw using the Pro Neg Hi preset. Fujifilm XF 90mm F2. ISO 1600, 1/200 sec, F8.

There are certainly some aspects of the Fujifilm X-E2S that are starting to show their age – but they may not matter to everyone. The 16MP X-Trans sensor has less resolution than many competitors, but it still offers up good color and noise performance. The autofocus system isn’t great for fast-moving subjects, but for casual shooting, most users will find it’s good enough. The only feature that is really unforgivably bad is its video quality, which actually made me chuckle out loud when I looked at it for the review. But this camera is also very obviously not geared toward video shooters.

So the X-E2S isn’t the most exciting camera that Fujifilm has released recently – the X-T2 and X-Pro2 have both brought some stirring innovations to the Fujifilm ecosystem – but that doesn’t make the X-E2S any less solid. As a decidedly midrange experience being sold at something approaching a more entry-level price, the Fujifilm X-E2S deserves a look.


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