Tracking the Light Special Camera Review: Fuji X-E2 on the Fly.

I’ve been fascinated by Fuji’s mirror-less cameras for a while. Pat Yough has a couple of them. In my previous post, I wrote of my fleeting experience with Pat’s X-T1. The other day, Pat gave me his X-E2 to play with.

Previously, I’d experimented with the X-E2 at the Streamliners at Spencer event last summer in North Carolina. On that occasion, I’d used the camera with a pancake lens and tried to match scenes using a Lumix LX7 as a side by side comparison.

Fuji X-E2 fitted with 18-55mm lens exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Fuji X-E2 fitted with 18-55mm lens exposed with a Lumix LX7.

I quickly found that making these type of comparisons obviated the inherent operating advantages of each camera system. This is an important point for me, and one too often ignored by professional camera reviewers.

For me the way a camera handles and its ease of use are crucial functional considerations. I make different types of images with different equipment.

So, what can a Fuji X-E2 do for me?

Picking up any unfamiliar camera and charging into the image-making process has its fair share of challenges. This is acerbated by the inherent complexity of many modern digital cameras. To simply get the camera meter mode and focus point where I’d expect them, requires layers of menu surfing.

The old Pennsy station at Lambertville, New Jersey made for a good subject. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm, ISO 200, f8.0 at 1/35th of a second, hand-held auto-white balance. This combination yielded excellent depth of field. I was very impressed by the color/contrast reproduction with the blue sign. The sharpness of the RAW file is outstanding.
The old Pennsy station at Lambertville, New Jersey made for a good subject. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm, ISO 200, f8.0 at 1/35th of a second, hand-held auto-white balance. This combination yielded excellent depth of field. I was very impressed by the color/contrast reproduction with the blue sign. The sharpness of the RAW file is outstanding.

It took more than a few minutes to get a handle on the X-E2. On Thursday December 11, 2014, we explored the New Hope & Ivyland’s tourist train operations.

This was a perfect opportunity to put the camera through its paces; I wasn’t pressured by the need to document the operation, since I can come back anytime and photograph it again. Also, poor and changeable weather conditions allowed me to push the X-E2 and see what it can do in lousy light. I also made a few comparisons with my Lumix LX-7.

New Hope & Ivyland's excursion train approached New Hope, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 55mm. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
New Hope & Ivyland’s excursion train approached New Hope, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 55mm. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The XE-2 has several motor drive modes. These are accessed by scrolling through the menus. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The X-E2 has several motor drive modes. These are accessed by scrolling through the menus. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/250th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The ability to adjust the shutter speed with a traditional dial atop the camera is a real boon. In this situation I was able to make a quick change based on instinct and a hint from the camera meter. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/180th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
The ability to adjust the shutter speed with a traditional dial atop the camera is a real boon. In this situation I was able to make a quick change based on instinct and a hint from the camera meter. Exposed at 400 ISO f4.0 a 1/180th of a second. Auto white balance, hand-held.
Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm. Exposed at ISO 800, f4.0 1/240th of a second. The extreme contrast in this image made for test of the XE-2's dynamic range.
Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens, set at 18mm. Exposed at ISO 800, f4.0 1/240th of a second. The extreme contrast in this image made for test of the X-E2’s dynamic range.
A hand held pan with the motor drive in its fastest mode. The rangefinder-like quality of the X-E2 makes it an excellent tool to make pan photos. Exposed using 18-55mm lens at 55mm. ISO 200 at f4.0 1/12th of a second. Shutter speed calculated by the camera in 'A' mode.
A hand held pan with the motor drive in its fastest mode. The rangefinder-like quality of the X-E2 makes it an excellent tool to make pan photos. Exposed using 18-55mm lens at 55mm. ISO 200 at f4.0 1/12th of a second. Shutter speed calculated by the camera in ‘A’ mode.
Dusk at New Hope. I mounted the X-E2 on my old Bogen 3021 tripod. To allow for a more pleasing color, I manually set the white balance to 'daylight' rather than use the auto white balance. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55 lens, set at 55mm. ISO 200, f4.0 at 0.8 seconds.
Dusk at New Hope. I mounted the X-E2 on my old Bogen 3021 tripod. To allow for a more pleasing color, I manually set the white balance to ‘daylight’ rather than use the auto white balance. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55 lens, set at 55mm. ISO 200, f4.0 at 0.8 seconds.
Where the Fuji camera come into their own is with the high ISO settings. SEPTA local to Philadelphia at Glenside, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 27mm pancake lens. ISO 2000 at f2.8 1/12th second handheld.
Where the Fuji camera come into their own is with the high ISO settings. SEPTA local to Philadelphia at Glenside, Pennsylvania. Fuji X-E2 with 27mm pancake lens. ISO 2000 at f2.8 1/12th second handheld.

In other circumstances, I kept the Lumix handy. When push came to shove, I’d grab my familiar camera to ensure that I got results. I don’t want to be fighting with a camera when the action is unfolding. Equipment familiarity is key to consistently making good images.

The photos here have been scaled for internet presentation, but otherwise unaltered.

Stay tuned for some analysis and conclusions!

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