Preview: The 2013 Fujifilm X-E2

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The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year’s popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn’t the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping for, but it’s a significant enough update – for those who had issues with AF speed at least – to warrant serious consideration. In fact, I was sent a list of 61 improvements the X-E2 carries; some new to the camera, some inherited from the X-M1 and others from the X100s. I personally have had a rather inconsistent experience with Fujifilm products; on one hand, I absolutely love their films – Acros is my mainstay in all formats – but was left highly expectant and then disappointed by several cameras, first the original X100, then the X-Pro1, the XF1 and finally the X20. These are cameras I wanted to love, but found lacking in several areas; ultimately, I landed up with M4/3 as my compact system choice due to maturity of cameras and lenses. Many have asked why I don’t seriously consider the X system; I was offered a pre-production prototype by Fujifilm Malaysia, and I cleared a few days in the schedule to seriously revisit the system.

Note: the camera’s firmware is not final, so there will be no evaluation of image quality yet, or full size files or crops. Also bear in mind that some of the observations may change after final firmware. Most of the images in this review are mostly SOOC JPEG; a few have minor color corrections and all B&W images were converted from colour source files.There are also more samples in this Flickr set.

I also have the X-Q1 here; I just haven’t had time to shoot with it yet.

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The biggest changes are around the sensor and focusing: the X-E2 uses the X100s’ 16MP X-Trans II CMOS which has phase detect AF photosites on chip. As we know, the X-Trans layout uses a different colour filter array and interpolation method to arrive at the final image, which supposedly increases image quality and prevents moire. I can agree with the latter, since I simply didn’t see any during the test period of this or any of the other X-Trans cameras I’ve shot; however, I’m still stymied by workflow issues when it comes to image quality comparisons: sadly, ACR results are mediocre at best. However, if I use another converter, lack of familiarity is going to prevent me from obtaining optimal results from any camera; beyond that, the whole workflow is significantly slower. Let’s park this issue for now and hope that Adobe eventually gets the demosaicing algorithm right – or that Fuji shares it with them. It would seem like an obvious business decision given the number of X-system users out there; I saw a surprising number in my recent European workshops.

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Back to focusing. One of my biggest issues with the early cameras was focusing speed; it was downright slow and worse still, imprecise. Subsequent firmware updates have improved that, but not to the point that I was confident of the camera nailing the target in the same way the OM-D does; I’m pleased to say that the X-E2 fixes this. It still isn’t as fast as the E-M5 (let alone the E-M1); to be honest I think it sits on the borderline of being sufficient. There were a lot of situations in which the camera just felt laggy – mostly due to an initial hesitation before the lens kicked in; I am pretty sure this is down to the notchy shutter button – it feels like it has three positions, with the first detent after taking up initial slack (usually activating AF on other cameras) doing nothing. Despite shooting with it intensively for several days, it still felt slow to me. Odd, because this was not the case at all with my friend’s X100s.

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There is a ‘high performance mode’ buried in the menus that increases focusing speed slightly, but it appears to freeze the live view in order to do so – this is a big no-no in my book because it means you have no visibility of critical action, making it very difficult to time shots. There’s also a pre-AF function that continually drives the lens while the camera is on to reduce AF times further; it works but is audible and will chew through batteries very quickly indeed; typical performance was ~200-250 images with very conservative use, and powering off the camera between images. In addition to focus peaking, Fuji have added the magnified (2.5x) digital split image simulation/ ‘rangefinder’ to the MF assist options (inherited from the X100s); it works reasonably well, but doesn’t have enough horizontal displacement to be truly effective – fortunately, that’s a simple firmware fix. Fuji claims to have a new AF-C tracking mode, which works at 3fps; it still lags behind the E-M1, let alone a DSLR.

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Incidentally, continuous frame rate also increase from 5.6fps to 7fps, though there is of course single, locked AF only at this speed. Live view also blacks out between frames, making tracking subjects a little challenging; this would work better with the hybrid optical finder of the X-Pro. The buffer is for 37 JPEG images; RAW is of course less and will depend on your card speed. The now-obligatory wifi connectivity has been added, which allows for image transfer to smartphones and tablets via a free app; what I still don’t understand is why none of the camera makers – especially those who target these cameras at professional audiences – will make a wifi connection that allows for serious tethered shooting with raw files etc. for proper photography, not just social media. A wasted opportunity, if you ask me – especially since the hardware is already in place. Fuji are by no means the only guilty party – they can join the ranks of Olympus and Canon. I’d rather not have the feature at all if it isn’t useful.

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Enough of specs: we’re all aware that cameras passed the point of sufficiency some time ago. Haptics and handling are far more important criteria determining whether a camera stays with you and becomes a partner or a hinderance. The X-E2 is a mix of good and bad. I admit that I am not familiar enough with the Fuji system to comment extensively on handling compared to the other models in the lineup; I’ll be approaching this from the viewpoint of a prospective new user.

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Firstly, though the body is ostensibly magnesium, it lacks the solid feel of the X100s. The grip shape deserves praise, however: though it’s a flat and boxy camera, your fingers are guided into a comfortable shooting position that places all of the buttons and dials easily to hand. A thumb catch on the back prevents the camera from twisting out of your hand, though the AF-L and AE-L buttons are slippery, poorly located and difficult to press without your grip slipping and the weight transferring to your lens hand. Again, the shutter button needs work. The threaded release is great, but the button itself is far too notchy and seems to have three positions (there are really only two) – the feel of this one single control can make a big difference to the responsiveness of the camera, and your ability to release it without shake. The X-E2’s button is both too notchy and too firm at the break point. The large number of customisable buttons should also be commended; along with the Q button to easily access a grid of core settings, though the self timer seems oddly buried in the main menu and not part of the drive options – Fuji, people actually use this to reduce vibration for tripod work, not just self portraits. The LCD has also increased in size to 3″, up from 2.5″ for the X-E1.

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Also deserving of praise is the ability to configure them camera before power on – at least with fixed aperture lenses – you can set aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation from the physical dials alone, something that few cameras can match. And by using combinations of the A(uto) positions on the dials, achieve program, aperture, shutter priority and full manual modes. The dials have the right amount of tactile feel (though the lens’ aperture rings are a bit too loose and easily knocked off); I’m pleased to see there’s a big distance between A on the shutter speed dial ad the neighbouring settings to prevent accidental dislodgement. Similarly, exposure compensation now runs +/- 3EV. A hotshoe, small pop-up flash (which can be tilted backwards to bounce, providing you don’t need much light) and EVF with eye sensor complete the top plate.

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The EVF is the 2.5-million dot OLED unit from the X100s, with 100% coverage and 23mm of eye point – very comfortable for spectacle wearers, of decent magnification (not as large as the E-M1, though I suspect it’s the same part made by Epson). I could never quite find the right setting for it – though perfectly fine indoors, it got washed out easily in daylight even at maximum brightness and lacks a dynamic/ auto setting. It does have configurable levels of information, and is of sufficiently high resolution that manual focusing is easy even without resorting to any of the focusing aids. With the continual improvement in EVFs and their ability to accurately preview colour, exposure and selectively magnify areas of the frame, the argument for a traditional viewfinder gets weaker and weaker every day; especially if it’s a dark, low-magnification one. There’s also a diopter adjustment and eye sensor to switch automatically between the LCD and viewfinder; it’s also possible to review images in the finder, something which is extremely useful in daylight and sadly lacking from either of the OM-Ds.

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Though Fuji has significantly improved the menu system, I found it – the ‘electronic’ part of the camera – still to be my main source of my frustration. There were some aspects of control I loved, such as the Q-button and ability to change major settings directly from that screen, and the configurability of the buttons – and others that drove me absolutely mad. For example, in the aforementioned Q-menu, the command dial has the opposite effect to what you’d expect – turning left increases the value, and turning right decreases it. This seems small but is so counterintuitive that I continuously found myself fumbling. Surely there could be a custom function controlling the rotation direction of the dial? On top of that, there are multiple places to set things in the menus; sometimes it’s not clear whether the setting will ‘stick’ or not. And on top of that, other settings are buried in illogical positions – image review is under ‘Screen Set-Up’, for example.

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Quite simply, two things need to be done: firstly, group the functions into more logical sets; secondly, remember the last used cursor position so we don’t have to hunt through eight pages of menus to find the option we were looking for. Better yet, have a ‘My Menu’ tab to allow the user to save frequently accessed options – or going one better, allow the Q menu to be configurable with any menu item. There’s one last fly in the ointment: be very careful if you’re trying to save a set of custom parameters; if you hit the wrong thing, it’ll reset all of your choices to one of the existing presets, and you’ll have to begin again. ‘Save current’ should be the default choice, not ‘apply preset’.

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I had the opportunity to use the 18-55/2.8-4 and 60/2.4 lenses with the camera; both are optically very good, with the 60mm being excellent. The 18-55 has slightly soft corners that require stopping down a little to achieve optimal performance. It’s not much larger than competing APS-C kit lenses, but a stop faster at both ends, significantly better optically, and equipped with stabilization (of low to moderate effectiveness; I saw  some evidence of double images/ “VR bounce” at shutter speeds in the 1/60-1/100s region). On both lenses, I found the aperture rings to be too loose and accidentally moved; ideally they need a lock button to push before rotating, or stiffer detents. The same goes for the switches: the travel isn’t that much, and the detents aren’t that stiff, which makes them easy to accidentally knock out of position. That said, of all of the new mirrorless systems, Fuji has the most sensible and interesting lens lineup; it has to, since other than Zeiss, there aren’t as many options as M4/3 (which arguably is full of a lot of consumer zooms anyway). It’s also the only one with physical aperture rings, and that deserves applause.

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You’ll have noticed my continual references to (and use of) the E-M5 and E-M1 throughout this review; Fuji have admitted that they viewed these cameras as their main competitors, and it is of course the system I’m most familiar with – and which would be my natural choice under the situations for which I’d use the X-E2. Aside from the NEX-6 and 5R, they’re also the only mirrorless cameras with PDAF on sensor, too. I’d say the OM-Ds have the advantage when it comes to lens selection; however, the Fuji sensor in the X100s is definitely a notch above the M4/3 cameras. There’s not that much to choose between them in size or price, either; though arguably the Olympus 12-40/2.8 is about the same size as the 18-55/2.8-4 and is of significantly higher spec; the X-E2 itself lacks weather sealing.

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Bearing in mind that the camera I used was not final, I’m hoping that Fuji will do something to the firmware to address two issues: general lagginess in operation, and JPEG output. (Despite this, it was still slightly faster than the X-E1.) I’ll of course reserve judgement until I get to handle a final camera. However, my biggest concern still remains around workflow: until we have decent Adobe support for the X-Trans array, Fuji are going to be crippled in the image quality department – unless you shoot JPEG, which rather defeats the point of buying a new camera or system on the basis of image quality anyway. All in all though, the X-E2 is a solid upgrade from the X-E1 and lower spec X-mount cameras and quite possibly the best X-mount camera yet; one hopes that Fuji will fix the shutter button, and continue their track record of useful firmware updates to address some of the operational speed issues. MT

Coda: Since writing, Sony has announced the A7 and A7R full frame mirrorless cameras; I took some heat over the last two days for not being gushingly full of praise. They come at a price point that’s higher than anything else for the moment, but which will still put pressure on existing mirrorless. Nothing is perfect, not even the cameras I actually buy; that’s because you have a fixed product designed for a ‘general’ type of user, not one specific one. So: if a system works for you, great; use it, ignore what everybody else thinks, and focus on making images. If not, then keep looking. Remember, photography is about photographs, not cameras.

Thank you to Fujifilm Malaysia for providing the opportunity.

The Fujifilm X-E2 is available to preorder here from B&H.

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Comments

  1. Just wondering if you have tried the Fuji XT-1. I think many of your complaints have been resolved with this model.

    • All except workflow, which is the biggest one.

      • Lightroom works fine for me. Of course there’s room for improvement but that can be said for any raw conversion. Who’s to say what is optimum? I’m finding the Fuji files don’t need much adjustment. But, to each his own. Good luck.

        • Lightroom doesn’t work for me at all. Dodging and burning is a disaster, and multiple curves are impossible. These two things are critical parts of my workflow and let me get a complete file out in about 30 seconds. I spend north of 5min in LR and still get inferior results – when you have thousands of files to process, this is a disaster.

        • I first replied to this thread as an em5 owner and since switched to the xe2 with plenty of lenses to boot. I found indoors the difference in noise and the shallower depth of field provides clearly superior images. But to say there are no issues with Lightroom is just wrong. It smears details at all iso values. One only has to run the same raw file through a different processor to see the problems.

          But it’s one of those things you won’t notice unless you know how it should look.

          • Agreed…As I said it’s fine but has issues. I don’t get that much smearing which I’ve read shows mostly in foliage…I’m a travel & street shooter. That said, I do compare files between LR and Photo Ninja ( I don’t use a Mac so no Iridient for me). I’d have to say that the Photo Ninja conversions are superior. I guess it depends on how detailed your workflow is. I don’t burn or dodge, so it’s mostly a quick process for me. And, as I mentioned, many times the Fuji jpegs are excellent on their own.

            That aside, I just prefer the handling of the X-T1. And I love the 27/2.8 pancake. For my purposes it’s a great set up. I haven’t as yet downloaded the LR 5.6 update. I’ve read it contains some improvement for X files and new lens profiles. We’ll see. If Adobe gets this right, this is a tough system to beat.

            • Sorry but the jpegs are terrible if you look at high iso and human skin. My xe1 has superb jpegs but not my xe2 or any xtrans 2 sensor. They all suffer from it which is a real shame as the jpegs + high iso performance is why many jumped to fuji in the first place… Apart from that and the focus I agree it’s a solid system for those not wanting the bulk of a dslr and who want a bit better iso and dof control than m43.

              • We’ll have to agree to disagree. I have little to no issues with the jpegs. Could it be a sharpening issue I wonder. Incidentally, I’ve also tried Capture One on the raws and they give a different rendering. That’s where it stands now for me. Some images are better with different convertors…sometimes LR is the best, sometimes not.

                No worries…it can only get better.

  2. I am looking for a good tutorial or youtube (for a friend that I recommended buy this camera) …. that shows how to use thios camera in its most basic auto modes … has anyone any good suggestions?

  3. Wow! You sound like you hate Fuji camera’s in general and you love Olympus. You give it some praises but there is always a “but”. Just an observation. Pretty nice pics I must say.

  4. Hi Ming… Thanks for the review. Can you clarify what you mean when you say … “There is a ‘high performance mode’ buried in the menus that increases focusing speed slightly, but it appears to freeze the live view in order to do so – this is a big no-no in my book because it means you have no visibility of critical action, making it very difficult to time shots. There’s also a pre-AF function that continually drives the lens…”

    Even the Fuji X-E2 press releases mention a High Performance mode. Are you able to verify please if this is as you suggest different from the pre-AF function and if so, where the High Performance mode might be activated? I’ve searched through my manual, menus and Google (hence came across your blog) and cannot seem to find any High Performance mode on the X-E2. Apologies if I am missing the obvious. – Andrew

    • Sorry, the camera was returned a long, long time ago. It’s simply impossible to remember the menus of every camera I’ve used, especially when a lot of them are both complex and illogical. I suggest you read the manual…

    • Go to set up 2> open power management> high performance is the second item in the subfolder.turn on or off.

  5. Hi Ming: did you ever get your hands on an X100s or review? Any plans? Would love your thoughts! I just got a rental but am now thinking that it is slow enough that I might just get an old Leica M3 and be happier! ;)

  6. Hello,
    You have to flash the lenses too to use the newer AF system. My 18-55 with the X-E2 has the newest lens firmware and i find the AF nice and fast….

  7. Well, I’m using Fuji X since the first X100, going over to the X-Pro1. My main RAW-tools are based on Aperture and plug-ins like DxO, not LR that I dislike for many reasons.

    Being a very technical person myself, over all this time I have been comparing the X-Pro1’s output with many other cameras, including FF DSLR’s and Leica. To be honest, there are not a lot coming close and certainly not with the HQ primes like the XF14mm, 23mm & 35mm Fujifilm released. I don’t need dozens of zooms that don’t interest me. FF-cameras may have some advantage over the DOF control (bokeh), but that’s it. Without being a pro, I have even been using the X-Pro1 in studio-context was surprised how well it behaved aside of top notch FF DSLR’s. The Fuji’s produce a kind of film-alike color and appearance, that I like very much.

    I respect anyone’s choice for the Olympus OM-D’s, but I still can’t see in them a match for the Fuji’s, unless maybe its excellent AF capabilities. Fuji should have done a better job in this area, but also the first waves of 4/3 cameras weren’t exactly famous for a good AF-behavior. We may expect that Fuji will master this better in next generations, that’s the way it’s always going and if I was Fuji, I would blow all competition away with the next X-Pro2.

    Ming: I really respect you and your blog a lot, but I do not understand your comments about the Fuji’s buttons, ergonomics and even menus, it’s looking for something to be wrong while it isn’t at all. If you compare the layout with the Olympus OM-D’s, even the overall form factor, for me everything is really a fair bit too small, too far from being ergonomic, this is just an advanced compact of the smartphone-age – not to mention that 4/3 is merely a video ratio and these sensors are still quite a bit smaller than APS/C effecting in again less DOF control versus FF. I also don’t experience with the OM-D’s any true camera control & feeling like the oldtimers of my generation were used to… something I still have with my X-Pro1 and that can never bring me back to the modern ranges of DSLR’s.

    You see how different opinions can be and I’m sure I can represent by this reply the view of many thousands of advanced and experienced Fuji X photographers, sorry, I think you were too subjective about this X-E2 but I admit it is sometimes difficult not to be so if you like something else so much.

    • Why would I waste billable time reviewing several Fujis to ‘find fault’? I have better things to do. I tried the cameras with genuine interest and was disappointed, and wasted my own time in doing so. I am not a review blog, I am a commercial photographer, so my time is actually valuable and I actually need to make pictures that would pass personal and client approval. These would not, and I would be/ was frustrated with the ergonomics; no good camera takes a week to acclimatise to! We can of course agree to disagree, but frankly, I think my results with my choice of system speak for themselves.

      • Again, I wrote my comment in respect. It didn’t take me a week to get used to the Fuji X-system, even contrary, it was like coming home after a long time. The menu system… and others, after about 2.5 year know I really don’t know where I should complain about, there are not hundreds of silly options, filters and other nice to have that complicated many other menu systems, but only settings that only appeal to a true photographer. Let me put it as such… I’m not what you call a ‘commercial photographer’, but I use my X-system in the sideline of my profession and I’m an advanced photographer in any other free time since 36 year now. No, I don’t like the Olympus or Panasonic ergonomics, neither could Sony or even Canon ever fascinate me with what they find how a camera should work. Nikon DSLR’s… I can still accept their operational philosophies, certainly on the pro-line cameras, but regret they abandoned the kind of feeling that a FM would give you, and even the Df is not giving you this back.

        • The DF is a disaster. Don’t get me started: the designers had schizophrenia and couldn’t decide if it should be a film-style camera or a digital one.

          It wasn’t my first time out with the X system. I wanted to like it because the lenses made so much sense; I forced myself to shoot with it for extended periods of time, which is generally a waste of time for me because I’ve got plenty of other things on my plate. It doesn’t take me long to get used to a new camera; a few hours at most usually. I’ve shot and reviewed hundreds of the things in my current line and my previous job as photo magazine editor. But the Fujis just leave me frustrated, first with the illogical position of items in the menu, and then with the disappointing image quality. I keep wishing I’d used something else instead, especially when the image is one that matters.

    • Hi Dirk,

      your comment could be written by me as I had exactly the same experience.
      Last weekend a friend of my son who is a ambitious amateur visted us and he was delighted by the controlls and IQ of the jepgs.

      I bought the XE 1: the AF is NOT on spot and actually the worst of all my cameras, maybe I should have waited and invest a bit more and bought the XE 2. – A big truck has more HP than a Porsche!

      Without keeping statistics I estimate to miss 10-30% of all shots, a bit more than my DSLR.

      If I go to my daughters school sport event I take a DSLR. In low light (dinner in a restaurant) the IQ of the XE 1 without using the flash is just amazing.

      Enjoy Heiner

  8. lol..I’m not sure if they ever give you another camera to review man…basically XE2 is crap

    • Well, I’m not bothered as I don’t make a living reviewing cameras.

    • Hi Aref,

      the craps sells good: according to a newspaer article I read today Fujifilm is selling the X cameras very well, otherwise the big guys Nikon and Canon are struggling.
      I got the XE 1 and I am extremely happly with it, outperforms my D 5 100 in IQ by a margin.

      But everybody has a differten style and taste, similar to cars.

      BR
      Heiner

  9. Wow! From your review it sounds like you weren’t that thrilled with the camera but based on the pictures you produced it looks like a winner. Great images. Would you say there is more of a lower rate of “keepers” as compared to the OMD system rather than the best images from the Fuji system not stacking up to the best of Olympus?

    • They don’t satisfy me when taken into consideration as a whole; the overall image quality is pretty poor. Enlargement size would be smaller than the E-M1, let alone the GR. And yes, the keeper rate was dire – about 3%.

      • People seem split so much by the Fujis – with one camp saying they have out of this world image quality, and another saying it isn’t all that at all. I’ve not seen such a split over one camera – why do you think this is Ming?

        • I have absolutely no idea. Personally, I’m not impressed. But I will give them one thing: at high magnifications, the rendering looks very much like film, which I’ve not seen from any other digital. Perhaps it’s something to do with this.

          • There is something very strange about the whole Fuji X business. The cameras are both infuriatingly compromised and yet get tantalisingly close to getting it so right. I am a micro four thirds user but last year added an X-E1 out of frustration at shutter shock problems with my E-M5 and a general feeling that the image quality was still lagging somewhat behind what I really wanted from my cameras. To be honest, the X-E1 is a bit rubbish. It is slow, stilted, has all sorts of control issues, and that much mentioned image quality is largely elusive – unless, that is, you can find a RAW converter to actually do some justice to the potential of the sensor. Forget Adobe RAW. It produces hopelessly soft conversions that just convert to water colour paintings if you try to sharpen them up. Forget C1. Forget Silkypix. If you want to see what these Fuji’s can actually do, I’m afraid you have to buy a Mac. Aperture does a pretty decent job, revealing detail and punch which eludes any Adobe workflow. Raw Photo Processor does a decent job too but you have to battle through a dreadful interface. Rawker is a very simple little converter which produces nice conversions, but no longer in development. If this doesn’t sound like a reason for buying into the Fuji philosophy, I would largely agree were it not for two more options with decent interfaces which produce results which get most of the way one would hope for in unearthing the potential of the sensor. These two converters are PhotoNinja and the one which I ended up paying for and now use for all my Fuji conversions, Iridient Developer. Nothing I’ve got out of my E-M5 has got anywhere close to the best I can do from my X-E1 with a decent lens fitted and with Iridient performing the conversions. I am not completely convinced about the 18-55 zoom but there is no doubt at all that the 35mm f1.4 and 14mm lenses are worth the price of admission IF you can find a way to extract a finished image to do them justice.

            I’ve now sold the X-E1 because I disliked using it so much but still have my lenses and am steeling myself to buy an X-T1 which I hope will be slick enough in its operation to convert me properly into being a more enthusiastic Fuji user. Someone at Fuji might actually have known what they were doing with this X-trans stuff, but no-one there seems to have given any thought about how to convert that innovative thinking in the sensor engineering into the photographic output!

            Martin

  10. Good honest review, refreshing.

    Ming, I wonder if you have a view on the overall hype surrounding the Fuji X cameras? There are a lot of (pretty decent) photographers spewing superlatives non-stop about the XT sensor, but they can never quite articulate exactly what it is they find so good about the output.

    From a brief time with the X-E2 this weekend shooting alongside the E-M5 I can see a difference between 2 photos pretty much every time even at 900px. The Fuji files seem a little creamier, brighter, and more 3D-like. But… I don’t think it is significant enough for me to tell if I were to judge individually on a shot-by-shot basis which many Fuji guys claim they would be able to do.

    I wonder if a lot of this ‘look & feel’ is down to post processing in-camera, as, to a certain degree one can achieve a more smooth look with competing cameras by using a little bit of noise reduction, bumping white levels, warming the image etc.

    It is very easy to be swayed by hype in general, be it Fuji X-Trans or Full frame, which can leave you (well me) feeling that you are missing out on something, even if in reality, you’re not.

    • I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. This ‘creaminess’ looks to me like smear at the pixel level; fine detail and sharp edges aren’t well defined at all. It could be down to the way current demosaicing algorithms handle the XT files, but I’ve seen full-size files from respected photographers claiming to use the best available tools – C1/ silkypix – and frankly…they aren’t much better.

    • Sorry Ming if I don’t agree. I shoot only jepgs on the X E 1 with 18-55 mm lens: the images are sharp, nearly “scary sharp”, I can zoom in as much as I want, they don’t get “digital pixely”.

      For me the images have a certain beauty I have never ecperienced myself in photography and have rarely seen in magazines or the web. The colors and the WB are just right. Yesterday I took some time playing with settings and I even got this “kodachrome” look!! for 95 % of all situations I use standard settings.

      My Nikon 5 100 is “soft” compared to this, only with the 35 mm f 1.8 it can compete (comes out second).

      At the moment I use only jepgs without any post processing and view on a 50 inch plasma.

      BR
      Heiner, still amazed about his new toy

      • That may be true with X-E1, but my X-E2 is very soft, especially for portraits. It seems a lot of the low noise fanfare is just basic NR applied to JPEGS, in many cases it’s too much.

        • I couldn’t find any way to turn it off completely either; even NR off still has traces of NR in the raw files (now that ACR can read them). I hope this is something limited to the preproduction models…

  11. HI Ming ,
    congratulations for your blog, I have been reading your posts for a while and I am really amazed by the quality (and quantity !) of your articles..
    I have one simple question regarding the X-E2 : What’s your opinion regarding the image quality at high iso of the X-E2 Vs OMD Em1 ? I did’nt find any seriuos evaluation regarding this argument on the web. thanks in advance !
    antonio

    • I haven’t used a final production X-E2, so I can’t say.

    • +1 I have this same question, as the Fuji and Oly EM1 are two cameras I’m considering. I’m pretty sure that the Fuji is going to be great in low light and high ISO based on most of the reviews I’ve read. I’m most curious about the EM1, with its smaller sensor. That’s the one thing that gives me pause. I’m currently an APSC owner now (an old Canon) and am thinking of changing systems. I love the way Fujis handle, but the lens selection is still a bit light. M43 has an incredible selection of lenses and camera styles, so I’m hoping that the EM1 will be a good concert and wedding camera. I’m sure at low ISO and good light, it can deliver great quality. Hopefully, Ming will provide some detail once he gets a production Fuji and has some more time with the EM1.

      • The E-M1 is good up to 3200, 6400 in a pinch. I’d put the same limits on the Fuji X100s, which shares a sensor with the X-E2 (haven’t used a final production X-E2 yet). That said: you gain a considerable advantage from the E-M1’s stabiliser, plus speed all around, the lens selection, and weather sealing…

        • Thanks Ming. I suspect that the EM1, even at M43, will be a considerable step up from my old APSC Rebel XSi in low light/high ISO, and virtually every other regard. I’m trying not to go the FF 5DM3 route because I really love the smaller lighter body and lenses, the serious reduction in cost of system ownership, and the sense that as big as Canon is, that mirror less is the future, and perhaps most importantly for me, that the EM1 will just be more fun to shoot.

          • Oh, definitely. It’s very nearly on par with the current generation of APSC cameras, but the small difference is more than made up for by the stabilizer.

            • Hi guys, a week ago I got the “old” XE 1. Absolute amazing camera, nightshots at 3 200 ISO in superb quality, super sharp, no noise. Better than my Nikon DSLR 5100!!

              OOC jepgs are as good as many people comment – and I have not adjusted the camera yet to my liking, I guess I can improve significantly although the IQ already beats everything I am used to in the past.

              The “slow AF problem” probably does exist on the web and in the mind of many people, I experienced hardly any difference towards the Nikon. I never used AF tracking, always single spot AF (the old way), after a few hundred shots you know how the camera behaves and you get 90+ % clean shots in focus.

              BR
              Heiner

  12. Des Kodur says:

    Ming

    You are mistaken stating that both Olympus models do not have viewfinder based review capability, (if I read that section correctly).
    For me, it is a very useful and welcome feature of these cameras.

    • I just recently discovered that they do by accident – you have to hold the camera to your eye while hitting play. Not the easiest thing to manage ergonomically, but helpful in very bright sun.

      • Joel Venable says:

        Definitely not one of the most well thought out features on the Olympus cameras. My preferred shooting method with the OM-D is having the eye sensor off and using the EVF. However, when I push the play button, the playback switches to the LCD even though I told it to do no such thing. I can switch it back manually with another press of the viewfinder button…

  13. May I know how much it cost in China?

  14. Hi Ming. Tks very much for great preview. I have 02 slection of mft camera now: Oly-EM1 and this Fuji EX2. I’m not asking you which one is better, but i really want to know which lens brand is superior? And please name some lens models you like best ( between the Olympus lens and Fuji lens only.)
    I’m eager to have your comment about this.
    Tks very much.

  15. It’s clear Ming simply doesn’t really like Fujifilm cameras. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I’ve been shooting editorial fashion with the X-PRO1 for over a year now and my clients are happy, so to each their own.

  16. The self timer is also available through the Q button, bottom left.

  17. Using the X-E1 I never noticed the 3-position shutter button, until I read about it here :)
    What bothers me most is the loose exp compensation dial, which more often than not is inadvertently moved to an unwanted position. I hope they fixed that with the X-E2.
    As for the RAW processing, there was a major X-Trans demosaicing fix introduced with ACR 7.4. Was that part of your workflow? I can’t complain on IQ since I did the upgrade.

    Last but not least: wonderful images!

    • I didn’t find the dial too loose – personally, I’d prefer half stops, but that’s justme.

      No raw support for this camera, unfortunately – I re-ran previous X-trans files through 8.2, but still wasn’t very happy with the results.

      It’s really odd that everybody seems to think this particular set are good: I find them technically a little loose, and timing-wise not perfect because of the lagginess of the camera…

      • Sorry to bother you with the beauty of this images too :). Since I just recently found your site (looking for reviews of the X-E2) I was not familiar with your work, but I do love those pictures too…
        Keep up the good work!

  18. “(…) the AF-L and AE-L buttons are slippery, poorly located (…)”
    Amen to that sentence – to stay in line with the great pictures of your church theme!
    The location of these is my main gripe with Fuji’s X mount bodies. It’s just anti-ergonomic. Why doesn’t Fuji place them right near the thumb, like Sony just did with its A7 cameras?

  19. Obviously it’s not easy writing about new gear: every article seems to sparkle certain negative sentiments :-)

    I think that Fuji has a very nice lens lineup and roadmap catering to serious photographers, interesting camera bodies and have been forthcoming with software updates. However I don’t even consider them due to the raw conversion issue; I don’t care if it’s theoretically better when only certain workflows support results that are even at the same level as bayer sensors. And Fuji should get out of the Japanese camera maker mindset and release the algorithms for conversion to the open; as a non-Fuji user, it’s not my interest that Adobe would spend a dime on improving raw conversion for Fuji cameras. This may sound harsh, but I really don’t see what’s hard about it.

    Given the raw issue, it was kind of a relief that you didn’t find the body itself superior to offers from e.g. Olympus :-)

    Didn’t at first realize that the photos were from the Philippines, but as a whole they seem to have a slightly more western feel than the usual series from Malaysia.

  20. Dear Ming,

    very interesting first impressions.
    I am looking (still) for a replacemt of my V Lux 3: I shoot only jpg with a bit PP, mostly paintNet.
    The V Lux is better to handle than my old FZ 28 Lumix, but the I think what is “rendering” is much inferior.

    I shoot “old school” single point AF (MF doesn’t work for me).
    Have no problem to wait for XE 2, could also buy X 100 or 100 S, even OMD 5 – btw don’t like the look of new OMD 1 but the images published on the web (Steve Huff as well) look stunning!!

    Probably any of these would outperform my current bridge cameras but in good sunshine my FZ 28 photos are better then the ones with the DSLR Nikon 5 100 – might be the interaction “man and machine”!

    Best regards
    Heiner

    • I’m going to say it again: if it’s not broken, why fix it?

      • Dear Ming,

        it’s broken.

        I go out shooting with the V Lux every day, love the hadling, used any available setting, any shooting mode, come back home, view the jpgs, compare them with the one’s from the FZ 28 and want to sell the V Lux. and this for 10 months since I got it.

        And for 10 months I want to love the V Lux and get frustrated again. I don’t need new gear to be a better photographer (this doesn’t work), of my best 100 photos 60% or more were shot with the FZ 28 and not with the technical much superior NIKON 5 100.

        The images are just a bit smeary(?), the FZ 28 is more like film, clear, sometimes nearly three dimensional compered to the flat V Lux ones.

        My friends and staff don’t see the difference, but they also hear no difference between a CD and a vinyl record.

        If the FZ were more responsive, had better high ISO and easier access to so the relevant shooting parameters, I wouldn’t read camera reviews on the net at all. I stopped long time ago buying photo magazines as they mostly review gear and only buy magazines about photography, have the last 10 years of Leica FI, some “B&W” and “B&W and Color” etc

        A camera must shoot good images and be easy in my hand so I can forget about it and concentrate on my eyes.

        Best regards
        Heiner

        • You’ve asked me this question via email and in posts about a dozen times over the last year. It’s the same answer every time: sorry, don’t have a solution for you. Nothing is perfect. We just have to live with it. Perhaps I ought suggest complaining to Leica instead since they made the camera…

          • Leica did not make the camera but Panasonic. Leica “made” the lens, actually an evolution of the lenses in other bridge cameras like FZ 28 and FZ 40/45. But both have CCD sensors, the Nikon DSLR and the V Lux have CMOS.

            Maybe its the sensor type? In the digital world “progress” is not always better quality in picture IQ or sound quality. Images of the new Leica M as far as I can see from the web tend now more towards Canon/Nikon but as some one in this threat mentioned: what does the Leica look mean in the digital world?

  21. boyet abrenica says:

    om-d can also preview images via view finder :)

    great review as always!!

  22. Joseph Grunske says:

    “Remember, photography is about photographs, not cameras.”
    Love this line! With so much new gear coming out so frequently, it’s easy to lose sight of this simple truth.

  23. Kjeld Smed says:

    Hi,
    The first time I ever heard of Ming Thein was last month: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/09/19/the-line-between-art-and-photography/
    I told myself: “at last a photographer who is concerned of the picture itself and NOT on the tool´s.” Hurray….I was Happy and decided to follow the blog.

    Then came this preview – I was really disappointed. What is the news in the this article. Just the same words I have seen so many times before and by using a prototype we dont even get a real conclusion – only that You still don´t like it. Thats all.:-)

    Please, drop the tools and talk pictures and the future of photography. A lot has changed in the last 15 years.
    It is a little funny. People want the camera to be more and more perfect in all aspects color, speed etc. and when all is the best one can get, they ad a preset to make the Pictures look old – grainy – fainted or what ever.

    Is this a rant ? Then I am a ranter just because don´t agree in all on this blog.

    Thanks
    Kjeld Smed
    Photographer
    Denmark

    • I was criticised by enough people about dismissing the X system that I set aside some time to try it; that many people must have some valid points. I spent several days using it exclusively when an hour or two is usually enough. I didn’t like it. Yes, it’s personal, and puts all of that to rest. As for the presets: you know how much I hate them. I didn’t use any of the presets because I wanted to; I had no choice! That’s the way the camera works; you have to pick the most neutral of them and postprocess.

      Look at it this way: yes, I care only about the end picture. The gear is a tool. But why use bad tools? I’ll be blunt here: if I don’t care about the gear that much, and this didn’t work for me, as a serious photographer, it means the system isn’t worth your time. That’s your news.

      Frankly, if in 700 long articles, you only disagree with one, that’s a pretty darn good hit rate. I’m pretty sure no other site you’ve read even comes close – by your own admission. And finally, remember that I write for me, not for you or anybody else. None of the audience pays me; you’re all here because I choose to spend about 40% of my time for free to create this content for you. You of course have the choice on whether you want to read it or not.

    • Tom Liles says:

      I have to make one ever so brief comeback, for this one line only, which is maddening and would be enough, if I were Ming, to just close the site down because people can be so thick and unbearable, but I’m me so I’ll settle for not partaking with this comment and these commenters, because they say, straight faced, things like:

      The first time I ever heard of Ming Thein was last month… Please, drop the tools and talk pictures and the future of photography

      You really need to not come here Kjeld. Or come here, but actually look at the site. Jesus.

      • Tom, whilst I appreciate the defense, that may have been a little harsh.

        Kjeld: this site IS about photography. 90% or more of the articles are on pictures, philosophy and everything else. Gear is inescapable because it’s necessary for the output. But I assess it objectively and don’t for a minute believe that it’s the sole purpose or the messiah like most other ‘photographer-bloggers’.

        • Tom Liles says:

          Well, I am in full on curmudgeon mode. And apologies for that. To Kjeld and to you, Ming.

          I could’ve sugar topped it and said: “if you don’t agree at all with this blog, not the just the post, as you say — this blog — then perhaps it would be healthier for you to continue the search for a photographer who talks about the photos to your satisfaction rather than come back for more and over-hastily criticize a professional image maker who breaks time off from paid professional work and family and friends and does this as a freebie for us all and himself [out of the pure love of it]. Or do come here, by all means, please do, but perhaps check out the hundreds of thousands of words and rivers of digital ink that have been spilt on photographs, images, lighting, color, mono, composition, balance, philosophy and the psychology of picture taking—enough text and thought on the topics to plug the grand canyon, twice over, above and below the line, and that’s before I turned up [and began musing on things like cricket], please do that as you’ll find how mis-placed and mis-aimed your critique was. Hope you can hear this. And just on general person to person relations: the worst thing to do is berate a ruby for not being a diamond [and even worse if it *was* a diamond, but never mind]. It’s ultimately the same as berating a ruby for being a ruby. But we’re not talking about gemstones, are we, we’re talking about an actual living breathing person here: Mr Ming Thein, who writes this blog. For free. Think about it.” I could’ve done that, yes. Perhaps should’ve.

          Best course: that’s it from me, for a good good while.

          Sorry again Kjeld, Ming, all
          [that one's for you Leo]

          • And that’s why I love this place. We might not agree, but we can do it civily :) Thanks Tom.

            • Kjeld Smed says:

              Thanks for all comments to my provocation. The blog seemes to be alive :-)
              I will be back later today.
              For the record : Google: Fuji x-E2 previews ( Reviews) Ca. 11.400.000 results (0,28 sekunder)
              Thanks
              Kjeld
              Retired photographer
              Have plenty of time -just not today

  24. Just a note :
    I took thousands of Ekta in Malaysia years back, from what you present, the colours are exactly like it, not like the Fujichrome.

    • That’s partially because the in-camera ‘film simulations’ are a disaster and look nothing like the slides that come out of my Hasselblad, and partially because I prefer a different color palette – so the files have been run through PS for final tweaking and color grading.

  25. There’s just too many compromises to make in all the compacts and mirrorless cameras for the sale of size (compared to a dslr). And hardly may are truly pocketable. The ricoh GR works best for me and I’ve had the olympus and fuji mirrorless cameras. Ming, try sticking a leica 50 viewfinder on the GR and select the 47mm crop and photograph with both eyes open.

    • I like it better as a 28mm. Why would you want to crop it down? You get no extra resolution. Might as well crop afterwards if you’re going to do that at all…

  26. What a refreshingly balanced Fuji review! They’re claiming to have the world’s fastest autofocus! Thanks again for staying objective. I hope they fly YOU to Japan for a brainstorm next time! ;)

    • It might be true if the shutter button was more responsive – but it certainly doesn’t feel as hair trigger fast as the E-M1.

      Unless they’re going to pay me for the time too, I’d rather stay here and actually do billable work…but I appreciate the sentiment. ;)

      • I think Fuji has a really brilliant marketing strategy of identifying very high profile, very talented, likable/empathetic photographer/educators, and then wooing them with access and legitimately picking their brains and focus grouping them. At that point, having been made special, it becomes very hard for a sensitive and empathetic artist to retain objectivity. No names mentioned here — I still really respect those guys, but REALLY REALLY appreciate that you keep your distance and objective analysis. I think these are very good, but flawed cameras. But they’ve been positioned as “magic,” and they are not. They’re pretty, and I like their handling and images, but with auto focus issues, and a history of sensor issues (the orb), they have compromises just like everything else. I’m still looking for the “perfect” street camera, but keep shooting and shooting while I rent cameras before buying. I’m currently using a Ricoh GR, and am excited about the ultra tiny Panasonic GM1. I’m even interested in the Sony FF, but don’t have a lot of faith in Sony’s commitment to any format, lens mount, or roadmap. But I do want a small form factor, full frame mirrorless. Seems like the future!

        • I don’t think that works, either. If somebody uses one system exclusively, that would make them blind to the strengths and weaknesses of other systems; there’s no objectivity.

          Definitely not magic. And honestly…as a unified package, the GR takes some beating. There are few lenses – even for larger format sensors – that can match that particular lens-sensor combination.

  27. Brian Arndt says:

    What I want to know is what do you think of the Nikon 58mm 1.4… i’m really interested in your opinion on this one. I have the 1.4G and have pre ordered the 58mm, do you think its will be that much better?

    • Without using one or seeing samples, I can’t say. The problem with MTF charts is that they do not take sample variation into account; at the level of precision required here, it may well be significant. I know it’s an issue on the Leica 50/1.4 ASPH, for instance – I’ve had six copies, and they range of performance has been quite surprising.

  28. i guess you prefer the brand of photo/imaging more electronic brand ,
    and i feel a little bit disappointed that can not read more review of [sony,panasonic and ricoh] but thanks to you for all reviews ^_^

  29. When were you in manila? Man would have killed to have had a chat…

  30. Am I seeing where I think you were?

  31. Hi Ming, thanks for taking the time to give us your thoughts on the xe2. I’m a fan of both the Olympus and fuji systems, but for different reasons and I’m still sitting on the fence without making the jump into one system. I like the fast focusing, stabilised and weather sealed Olympus bodies. While Fuji glass is simply perfect for my requirements. Here I was surprised by your comments about the Fuji zoom. It is smaller and lighter than the Oly 12-40 by some margin and when the specs are normalised for their respective platforms the fuji is better performing for DOF and low light. Even if you need constant aperture for video zoom f4 on fuji apsc is the equivelent of f2.8 on m43 for both DOF and low light.

    • DOF control yes, low light no – the light gathering ability remains the same as the physical aperture. That doesn’t change with sensor size. And you’re forgetting how much better the E-M1/ E-M5’s IS is than the Fuji system…I’d actually give the M4/3 cameras the advantage here – even if the sensor itself may be a stop cleaner (at most).

      • Absolutely agree, the oly stabilisation is nice. Though my limited experience doesn’t put quite so far ahead. At that point moving subjects is more of an issue for my use and i haven’t figured out how to stabilise them at slow shutter speeds :-) When i mentioned normalising lens/cam combo I did also facter iso performance as it is very real. I would like stabilisaon on fujis primes though…

  32. I hope Fuji changes one small thing from last edition. When you create a JPEG off a RAW file in camera, that file is placed at the end of the line of all photos taken. In the old version, you had to move back to the original position to create a custom JPEG of the next one. Hoping they will have the new JPEG placed along the original RAW image.

  33. Great, thoughtful and balanced review. I’ve been waiting on trading in a bunch of Nikon gear to move to mirrorless and have had my eye on the Fuji X series. You post is very helpful and unhelpful at the same time. For the former, it’s full of info of how the camera works in the field. For the latter, it put the thought in my head that maybe I should wait a bit longer…. or spend more time than I should researching the Olympus cameras.

    Cheer,

    Kevin

    • Well, not a full review since I couldn’t evaluate image quality – so please don’t treat it as such. And certainly don’t make any system decisions until we’ve seen what the final output looks like.

      No harm in reading my E-M1 review though…

      • Understood its not a full review, but it is a very detailed preview. I think there won’t be too many surprises when the final version is out. If anything, it has kept me on the fence on deciding. I have ready your E-M1 review and it certainly has gotten me interested in that system.

        Thanks for all the work you put into these. Very helpful.

        Kevin

    • On that score — if you can wait a bit longer — I might be inclined to hold out for the X-Pro 2 next year. I think that camera will resolve many (if not all) of the complaints these X cameras have garnered since their release. It may also add some new wrinkles, too. ;)

      I’m convinced Fuji has the right idea here. They just need some more refinement in subsequent iterations, and, as Ming said, proper ACR/Lightroom processing support. If they get all of that locked down they’ll have a truly great system.

      • From what I’ve read and see, the X-Pro 2 was my target. My last film camera was a Contax G1. I loved using that camera but it has a lot of parallels with the X-Pro 1: e.g. not the speediest camera and slow and frustrating contrast detect auto-focus. Always wished I had sprung for the G2.

        Unfortunately, it’s taking Fuji longer than I thought it would. I’ll be selling/trading in a D300s and some lenses to make the switch. The longer I wait, the less those are worth. On the other hand, the G1’s lens, 45mm/f2, has grown in value over the last year – almost doubled from what I am seeing.

        Kevin

  34. Exceptionally beautiful photos, Ming. I especially like the interiors. Awesome!

    • Thanks! I still can’t figure out why people seem to like this set more than my usual stuff; I felt they were a bit lacking, to be honest.

      • I have to agree with the likers. I especially like the light for the two men by the window, and the wooden staircase by the window has a painterly look. Many of the pictures in this set have that painterly look. Maybe X-Trans smeariness has some benefits?

  35. David Grossi says:

    Hey Ming, looks like you enjoyed your time in the Intramuros – did you beat the rainy season? That museum is really interesting, yes?

    David G.

  36. Thanks for your preview Ming! Excellent shots. And they remind me, I still think Fuji’s files look the least “digital.” The Olympus and Panasonic M4/3 files look good, no question, but just not as good to my eye. Fuji has some magic in their sensor regardless of workflow, it’s proof is in your images.

  37. Really enjoyed reading your preview and commentary about the X-E2 and the Fuji X-trans sensor Ming. I agree completely. I’m a working photographer who went to the Fuji X system from the Lumix GF1 for a street photography project I was launching. X100 was not responsive enough, then tried X-Pro1.. very frustrating, then the X-E1 and an X100s. X100s came closest to the responsiveness I felt I needed. X lenses on the the X-E1 I generally was pleased with, but Fuji still hasn’t it the sweet spot (for me) with any of these models. However, I keep working with them because there is so much that I do like about them (mostly them manual controls and the viewfinders). I have to admit, I almost tossed the whole Fuji X system due to the issues with the X-trans sensor. Ridiculous amount of time trying to tweak the IQ. I make LARGE prints and the smearing an other inherent issues with teh X-Trans sensor really cancels out any advantage over a traditional Bayer sensor IMO. I just wish they had used an APS version of the X100 sensor without the low pass filter and left it at that. Oops, I’m getting long winded here. Keep up the good work Ming.

  38. Thanks for your X-E2 review, Ming. I have both the X-E1 and the Oly E-M5 and share your frustrations with the Fuji. I hate shutter lag, and the Fuji’s still seem to suffer from that. I love that the X-E1 images have better dynamic range, and less noise at high ISO than the E-M5. But I’ve always loved how much more responsive the Oly is over the Fuji. I was considering selling both the Fuji and E-M5 to get the X-E2. But after this review, the E-M1 looks better. By the way, great images in this article!

  39. Hi Ming, excellent preview and beautiful photography!
    Just a quick comment about ACR raw converter, yes it is not the best one for x-trans files. I recently tried Iridient Developer and Photo Ninja and both produced absolutely excellent results from Fuji raw files.
    Thanks.

    • I’m aware of that. There are better options, but they’re slow and clunky, and still require PS to finish off because none implement dodging and burning correctly.

  40. Michael Matthews says:

    Fascinating. Although the camera seems to provide a number of irritants, the photos you’ve produced with it are outstanding! There’s a freshness, even greater involvement in the play of light, what comes across as a heightened emotional response to what you are seeing. What do you think — working harder to overcome the obstacles? Being in a new setting? Or just having an unusually good day? (None of the above is meant to suggest the usual standard ranks anywhere south of superb.)

    • Errr…none of the above. I found the files from this camera – again bearing in mind that it’s a beta – pretty poor quality, to be honest. I have much better output from the GR I was also carrying at the same time…

      Small web jpegs tell you very little, I think.

  41. Ming, one other thing I forgot to mention, you can definitely review images in the OM-D E-M5 viewfinder. When you press the play button to review images, it always seems to show them on the rear LCD by default. However, a quick press of the EVF button on the bottom right side of the viewfinder will switch the viewing over to the EVF.

    Though this is a two-step path to be able to review images within the EVF, its just a pretty quick play button then EVF button press and with them being so close in proximity, I can do it quickly without taking my eye away from the EVF. However, I do wish the camera would remember your last setting (it defaults back to the rear LCD both after a restart as well as after more shooting followed by another press of the play button)…or give us an option to set this parameter within either the D (display) or J (EVF) menu trees. If you are listening Olympus, please add either/both of these options via a firmware update!

  42. Hi Ming,

    I really enjoy your website; For example, I’m unable to access whether some of your comments about the A7A7r are right or wrong (regarding third party lenses) but It’s nice to read someone intelligent who doesn’t just acquire gear on marketing hype.

    I have been wanting to ask you some questions for a while and the announcement of the X-E2 seems a natural time to do so. I have a Nex camera and I am considering sticking with the Sony E-mount or buying into Fuji or M4/3 and selling what I have. The reasons are (first) lenses and (second) weather sealing.

    Let me explain my situation. I bought a Nex-6 about a year ago (and knew nothing about photography at the time). I bought the 35mm 1.8 OSS about six months later and my photos have really improved over that time (arguably anyway). It takes pretty sharp photos at 1:1 and I like using a fixed lens (the stabilisation also means I get sharp photos at 1/6 with it which is good because I handhold a lot). My 16-50mm kit zoom is muddy at 50mm (I took some photos of a enormous crocodile in the wild recently and they were lost because I couldn’t even crop to half full size); so all I really have is a good 50(is)mm equivalent and an adequate 16mm-20mm 3.5 (but the focal length resets every time the lens retracts and that’s incredibly annoying because I shoot full manual now)

    I want a general-purpose zoom that isn’t terrible. And I want something that is around 150/180mm equivalent to take photos of wildlife (or do street photography at a distance). Sony is bringing out a 70-200 f4 which I was thinking of buying for my nex-6 (but that could cost $1500 Australian dollars). I figured I could buy that and maybe buy something like the A7 in a year or so because it is weather sealed (and I spend a bit of time taking photos at sea – or on rivers – or in the rain – or in the mud).

    On the other hand, I could buy an EM-1 and the 12-40mm/75mm and not have to buy any more gear for a couple of years (I could manage to keep the 75mm dry if I was careful I think).

    Here’s the thing though, I photograph friends a lot (in dimly lit environments) and I am worried that the smaller sensor will mean I won’t get the results I get out of the 35mm f1.8.

    Here are my questions

    1. Will the EM-!’s files be useable at ISO3200 (because my Nex ones can be pretty garbagy at 6400 – especially if I pump the shadows up or exposure up).

    2. Will the depth of field of the Olympus zoom at 35mm 2.8 be the same as my 35 at 2.8 (I know the frame will be tighter). I ask this because some commentators say depth of field depends on ‘real focal length + aperture’ but other say it depends on ‘real focal length + aperture + sensor size’.

    I know depth of field isn’t everything but it is important to me because if I have (for example) two friends having a discussion/looking interesting in an unattractive looking bar, I want to know I will be able to take a snapshot and blur the background out. It’s also important because if depth of field depends on sensor size then that Zeiss fullframe 35mm 2.8 might just be my dream lens on a fullframe A7 (I find the 35mm 1.8 a bit type but I can’t justify

    3. Will the conversion problems with Fuji files occur in Lightroom (as well as ACR)

    I know this is long email but I don’t know who else to ask and I am a student so if I do switch systems or buy another lens for Sony e-mount, it’s a big deal for me to spend the money. I am really leaning towards the E-M1 because of the weather sealing but I would like to know the answer to the questions above.

    Thanks, Luke

    • *I find the 35mm 1.8 a bit type but I can’t justify buying more lenses for e-mount if you’re right and they’re never going to fill the holes in the lens lineup.

      PS. I am also leaning towards the EM-1 because the 12-40 zoom would mean I wouldn’t have to change lenses all the time (and I can’t afford to buy 4 nex/fuji primes anyway… or buy a zeiss nex zoom lens, which is $400 more, f4 [this seems worse if depth of field only depends on 'aperture + real focal length] and soft at the the long end.

      Once again sorry about the long post.

    • 1. Yes. Read my E-M1 review for more detail.
      2. No, if you’re comparing equivalent FOVs because you’re using 17mm instead of 35mm. You’d need a 17/1.4 to have equivalent DOF.
      3. Yes.

      • Cheers for the reply :)

        Sorry, I wasn’t clear… regarding question 2 what I mean is… does the depth of field depend only on ‘the original focal length + aperture’ or on ‘original focal length + aperture + sensor size’. So, if I set a 25mm on the Olympus to 2.8 and a 35mm on the APS-C Nex to 2.8 will it render the same depth of field? In other words, does variation in sensor size change the depth of field even if the same lens is used or just make the field of view tighter?

        • Luke, check out this article by Ming for some rules of thumb about bokeh which should also answer your question: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/06/01/bokeh-revisited/

          A smaller sensor does not by itself cause less background blur. Instead, because a smaller sensor decreases your field-of-view, it forces you to move further away to maintain the same subject size, and it’s the larger shooting distance that causes the reduced background blur. If you did not move away (and therefore your subject will be bigger in the picture taken with the smaller sensor), you will find that the background blur is the same as a larger sensor’s for the same aperture setting and the same lens.

        • No, it won’t. DOF is a property of the real focal length, not sensor size. You need an extra stop of speed between 4/3 and APSC, and another stop up to FF.

  43. Thanks for this insightful preview, Ming. But more importantly, thanks for sharing these amazing images of Manila! I’ve got to second the many comments about the high quality of these images. Your work is always excellent and meticulous both artistically and technically. Maybe its my mood today…or your mood when shooting…or the amazing people and atmosphere in Manila…or the camera used…but regardless, I really LOVE this image set!

    As you may remember, I’m an M43 enthusiast who uses both Olympus and Panasonic bodies and lenses. I’ve been tempted in the past by the Fuji X system, but I think all of your comments are spot on. As I don’t currently have a need for a full frame system, I am extremely happy with the usability, workflow, and IQ coming from my M43 gear.

    On the workflow for RAW images from the X-Trans sensor, might I suggest trying the Photo Ninja software from Picture Code, a small tech company in Austin, TX (http://www.picturecode.com/index.php)? Though I have not yet tried it, there are several quite positive reviews about its RAW conversion, especially for Nikon and Olympus. I know they can convert X-Trans RAW files and they have both a format and a filter plug-in for Photoshop. I’m not as skilled in Photoshop, but I believe those may prevent the intermediate step issues and maintain a reasonably efficient workflow for you.

    Anyway, just a thought about an option that might address at least the RAW conversion and PP workflow issues with the Fuji X system.

    • I’ll look into it, but honestly – why switch or add another system that doesn’t add anything I’m missing now?

      • Yes, I definitely agree about sticking with a time tested, refined, and proven workflow! Whatever you’ve got cooking in the Adobe workflow back on that Mac in your office is working wonders…so stay the course my friend ;-) I was mostly just throwing it out there as a potential X-Trans RAW converter that I haven’t heard too many Fuji-X users mention yet.

        On a side note, as a fall/winter holiday gift to myself, I’ll soon be taking advantage of one or more of your video tutorials. I think I’ll start with Video D (fundamentals) and follow that up with Video A (Adobe workflow). I’ve got a lovely extended family and the holidays are always prime family event portraiture opportunities (complemented by wonderful seasonal weather and lighting in my neck of the Earth), so I figure the best money I can spend on improving myself as an enthusiast photographer at this point is not on gear, but rather on training with my own personal favorite mentor…Ming Thein ;-)

        • I’ve actually got two new videos coming on Monday, and of course package deals to go with it :)

          • Perfect!

          • Best damned news of this whole week! (Unless B&H tells me my M1 is coming and Adobe releases final RAW support for it. :D ) What are the subjects? Ironically, the CC masterclass will do more for most people’s photography than a sensor of any size.

            Hal, if I may, consider the compact camera masterclass video first. In it, Ming uses a cheap, discontinued Sony point-and-shoot to photograph various subjects, including portraiture, with the typical Ming-like results. And he explains what he’s doing and why, too. It’s about as pure a distillation of what photography is about as I’ve seen, and everything in that video applies to all cameras. I go between that video, the KL walk around, and the outstanding images episode to remind myself of certain concepts before doing assignments for Ming’s email school.

            • Andre, you absolutely may!…and I greatly appreciate the advice! The CC Masterclass does indeed sound like a great place to start. I may very well do that. I know that I also want to learn from both Adobe postprocessing workflow videos as well. I have the software and a backlog of RAW images waiting to realize their fullest potential ;-)

              One quick question for you, Ming, and anyone else ready to chime in…do you have any advice on how to determine the best printing options (e.g., paper, printer, any PP workflow critical steps in preparation to print, etc.)? I do not own a printer so would need to do this via mail.

              I am hoping to make some nice 8×10 prints for family members for the holiday season!

              • FYI, there are two days left for the CCM and How To See intro prices, before we release the new videos. The new videos will have intro prices too, as usual :)

                Printing: unfortunately, there’s really no way other than to try it and see – too many variables in how the lab handles things alone to say for sure. Before a print sale run here, for example, I’ll print ~10 test candidates at full size on various papers to see how they look; some subjects/ processing style work on some papers, and not on others. Get paper samples if you can.

                • Great advice on testing papers Ming! Thanks for the heads up on the teaching videos as well.

                  I’m hoping your metal worker client allows you to include some of that job’s images in one of your future print sale runs. That was an inspired view into our world! While I’m probably still a few years away from being able to invest in any artwork, I’m going to show your Flickr portfolio to some of my colleagues in my old construction management school as I think your work would look amazing in a high profile space of the college.

            • Well, the M1s are shipping, and preliminary raw support is already pretty good…

              Ep2 – Finding Balance; Ep3 – Telling a Story.

              Wait until I do the iPhone masterclass. :D

              Glad you’re enjoying the videos!

  44. News Flash: A camera without an anti-aliasing filter and requires a non-Bayer demosaicing algorithm requires different rendering parameters than the camera you are use to using.

    Sharpening, Detail and Masking parameters must be different. Attention to the Clarity parameter is also important. Even the Defringe Amount slider can make a difference in some situations.

    The accurate criticism of XTrans raw (with the most current ACR) is not that the detail is unavailable. Compared to Bayer raw the disadvantages are: you have to adopt different techniques and different types of images, and often rather different parameters are required for different scenes. It takes a while to learn how to get the most out of ACR. This is quite different than writing “sadly, ACR results are mediocre at best”.

  45. Kjeld Smed says:

    “So: if a system works for you, great; use it, ignore what everybody else thinks”
    Yes.. but why are so many bloggers commenting on camera´s they don´´t like. ??
    Kjeld

  46. Mng Thien,

    Beautiful commentary and superb photos, as usual… I’ll stick with my F6 and Acros :)

    • And that’s a much, much better ‘film simulation': it’s the real deal.

      F6 and Acros is pretty darn sweet. I ran a couple of rolls in mine last month with the Noct-Nikkor and Zeiss 2/100…wow!

  47. “I took some heat over the last two days for not being gushingly full of praise.” Ming: I read your Quick first look comments on the A7/A7R and I can’t imagine why your not the feeling the love. Your article was no more and no less enthusiastic than any previous Sony first takes you written over the years…must have been some newbies visiting the site all glazed over with full frame rapture :)

  48. DynaSynergy says:

    The right hand grip looks better on the X-M1 too ( the grip on the x-e looks like a cobbled up after thought. )

  49. DynaSynergy says:

    Still no articulated screen for the x-e2 – i was hoping for it before indulging into the x system. The X-M1 almost got it right except for it being over priced plastic. Looks like we have to wait for it to happen in the X-E3 ? Why not do it right by coming out with a X-100S with inter-changeable lens capability, evf plus a fully articulated screen ? ( aesthetics / speed / functionality / build quality )

  50. Poor results with ACR/Lightroom have kept me away from Fuji. My D800 might be big, but so am I. Good write up. Can you get me on the list to test new cameras?

  51. Hi Ming, thanks for your thoughts on this camera/system. I’d love to hear more about your post-process approach, and the issues you have with the X-Trans when compared to Bayer.

    • Postprocessing isn’t something you can easily cover in a post; it has to be demonstrated. There’s a video for that available through the teaching store.

      As for X trans vs Bayer – though XT has no moire, I find that it seems not to be able to produce the very defined ‘crisp’ edges of a good Bayer sensor – but I suspect that’s as much to do with the RAW converter as anything…

  52. I love my X-E1 with the caveats that the AF is not upto requirements and that workflow is dire, if Fuji have fixed the AF with the introduction of Phase Detect, this would be enough for me to upgrade alone, but for christ sake why will they not give the RAW conversion algorithm to Adobe? Silky pics is just a joke plain and simple it does not sit hand in hand with a quality system like the X series, it causes loads of time wasting in PP and produces images which should be much better.

  53. John Ridge says:

    Would you mind sharing the in camera settings you used here for DR, NR, film simulation, H/S tone, color, and sharpness? BTW, beautiful images. Curious, what is your impression of the X100S lens vs the GR lens aside from focal length? Thanks.

    • Provia, minimum on all parameters, NR off. But the JPEGs were run through PS to get the tonal balance right.

      GR lens wins hands down; it’s one of the best lenses I’ve ever used, period – it seems to have no weak points in the aperture range or focus distance, and on top of that, it also does very well with its dedicated 21mm converter.

  54. Cesar Punzalan says:

    Thanks for a great review. Great shots of my city, Manila.

  55. I mainly use Leica lenses but I think Fuji produce the nicest skin tones amongst the Japanese lens makers. Aside from any criticisms of the camera itself, of your recent colour images I have liked these shots the most. The shop front is great!

    • I have spent quite a while on Flickr to compare with older images. And I also think the colour image quality of the Fuji X-E2 is the best I have seen. It has the Leica look.

      • The ‘Leica look’ in the digital age is a myth. It can be easily replicated if you know what you’re doing with PS, and you can even make Leica output look decidedly un-Leica.

        • Rainer Faller says:

          Well with all due respect I consider it a digital myth that skin tone and certain looks like Leica or Zeiss or Fuji can be replicated using PS with reasonable effort. When I go thru all the Oly OM-D pictures on Fredmiranda, where many excellent photographers meet, I see most portraits of western people being B&W converted or having unrealisitic skin tone. I had invested myself much in the OM-D and the skin tone color results were for caucasian skin tone very diverse and unsatisfactory to disgusting most of the time, such that I sold the camera to a colleague after he had much time to try. Now his wife complains the same. The only lens that I kept was the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 with hope for the future, as I liked the camera else a lot. Now I’m a very happy Fuji X shooter, and extremely happy when it comes to skin tones.

          • There are many reasons this might be the case, from web compression to browsers not being color space aware, to users not managing their color profiles to poor PS skill…I can match colour across all of my cameras, just not microcontrast. I think if you look through any selection of my images in the photographic articles you’ll be hard pressed to tell what came from what. It’s necessary as I have to deliver consistent images to clients; I wouldn’t bother with a tool if I can’t achieve that.

            • Hi Ming, I’m a daily reader of your blog and I have your great video tutorials. It’s possibly getting a bit off topic considering this is a camera review but I guess lens choice and lens performance/character is an important factor when considering a camera system. I agree that one can generally emulate other lenses colour character with PS but I find it becomes much more difficult when dealing with skin tones as I mostly do. That’s why I choose to start with a lens brand that gives me closest to what I want in the raw file consequently requiring less PP. For my personal preferences Leica and Zeiss both achieve that not just in their colour character but also sharpness, micro and macro contrast, bokeh and even subtle differences like sharpness falloff, background or out of focus saturation and how they convert to B&W. Some of these are characteristics I find difficult if not impossible to emulate with any kind of digital processing. As an avid reader of your blog I’d appreciate an article taking the raw files from two high performance lenses such as the Nikon 85mm 1.8G and maybe the Zeiss 100 Makro-Planar showing how their original files might differ and how to overcome those differences to achieve them the same look. Whether it is the mythical ‘Leica look’, the very popular ‘Ming Thein look’ or any ‘look’, I think it could make a good article maybe other readers would too. It has been interesting to see that other readers have also liked a set of images you aren’t particularly happy with, it’s personal preferences again that make photography so enjoyable. My original comment was really just some feedback to say I particularly liked the look of these shots, not really to discuss the ‘Leica look’. Thanks MT for the stimulating article.

              • You can get most of the way there in PS with everything except microcontrast. The actual steps vary depending on your final desired outcome and the lenses you’re trying to compare. You can’t do this in an article, but the theory is covered in the intro to PS video: you make the files as flat as possible, and work from there. Note also that your ‘look’ also has a lot to do with the quality of light…if that’s consistent, most of your battle is won…

                That said, life is always much easier if you don’t have to!

  56. Very Nice! Thank you for the preview of the x-E2!

    Best Wishes – Eric

  57. Stephen Scharf says:

    Ming,
    Thanks for this X-E2 preview. Just a couple of points to consider…

    I shoot extensively with my X-Pro1 and consistently obtain excellent raw conversions with LIghtroom 5.2. I don’t use ACR so I don’t have that as a frame of reference, but the image quality I get from LR5.2 fully meets my need for 85-90% of the images I shoot. For *critical* RAW conversion, the current version of Capture One is really, really superb, and in fact, I get better RAW conversions with it for any of my cameras, X-Pro1, E-M5 or Canon 1D MkIIN, than I do with any other RAW conversion application. Just pointing out that for mission critical image quality, *nothing* beats Capture One in my experience. Secondly, I shoot extensively with my EM-5 as well, and as good as the image quality is for that camera, and it is truly excellent, the X-Pro1 is still superior. It has better color, better dynamic range, and superior noise performance at high ISO, and overall, just a better “look”.

    Lastly, JPEGs or no, the images you shot with the XE-2 were just gorgeous! Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Stephen

    • LR and ACR use the same engine, so the results should be identical. Honestly, I don’t find the output good enough by any means; ACR does a great job with the Bayer cameras, but frankly if you compare the Fuji X-trans results with the E-M1 or GR, it’s not impressive at all. Maybe it’s my familiarity with the files, but I can get to the end point I want with the E-M5 much faster than I can with the X-cameras, even if raw sensor quality isn’t as good – and I wouldn’t expect it to be, given the size difference.

      C1 is an option, but workflow wise it doesn’t work for me. If I have to save in an intermediate format then take it into PS anyway, that costs time. And if you’re going through hundreds or thousands of files a week, 30 seconds for each adds up very quickly. Not to mention the learning curve; I don’t have the time to spare, nor can I afford to tell my clients ‘sorry, it’s not quite as good as usual because I’m learning new software so I can review cameras for my site’…

      • Ming, why don’t you use the good old show and tell approach? What is it that you can’t get from a Fuji file that you do get from an Oly one? I am using a Fuiji X100s and generally don’t feel I’m getting worse results than from a FF Leica M9 sensor, at least from the point of view of normal screen use (I have yet to get into the dark arts of printer management). Yes sometimes I see strange border transitions from roofs to Fuji skies in my B&W conversions, I suspect that’s one of your gripes. Show two examples side by side, we’ll understand and lots of the discussion will be anchored in reality….
        Thanks, man.

        PS Sometimes I wonder why you accept such a volume of polemic comments and still care to answer….

        • I would, but I can’t show full size images from this camera as it’s a prototype. And I don’t have any side by side comparisons shot between the two; I don’t generally shoot the same thing twice with different cameras. That’s a waste of time.

          A laundry list:
          1. Sky colour shifts towards cyan.
          2. Straight edges have artefacts around them; edges themselves are not ‘clean’
          3. Fine detail appears gritty.
          4. Shadows are blocked up/ noisy.

          • Thanks Ming
            1 i never niticed but I also spend 95% of the time looking at BW conversions so I wouldn’t :) Still I’m surpried that color should be n iue with all the praise for the film emulations I read. Again, I don’t do color and I don’t do jPEG
            2 I fully agree, especially noticeable in sy lmpposts set aginst the sky. possibly even more noticeble in BW conversion
            3 never noticed by I love grit!
            4 I like grain so I mind/notice less, and possibly even less in BW…

            If I may, it is not a “waste of time” to have proof of comparison statements you make. We trust your opinions (getting more opinionated as you get rightly tired of the rants and raves in this comment section,), but show and tell teches better for those that wnt to learn, nd might hut up. few that wnt to rant (not all, alas, ranters crave a rant for a rant’s sake)

            thanks and take care
            g

            • The limitation, as always, is time. I don’t get paid to do these things. In fact, the entire site is an enormous (and valuable) free resource I do out of my own goodwill. So, don’t push your luck :)

      • Timur Born says:

        With X20 raw files I found that sharpening radii of 1.7 and larger help to do away (or better hide) the strange demosaicing artifacts that LR can come up with. The most curious artifacts I found was that the corner pixel of certain 90 degree lines Γ where exchanged with the diagonally adjacent empty pixels.

        Of course the larger sharpening radius may swallow some fine detail and especially fine gradations (think green on small leaves). And generally I was not able to balance sharpening artifacts vs. demosaicing artifacts in LR the same way as they appear in out-of-camera JPGs.

        By the way, when asked Fujifilm claimed that Adobe has full access/disclosure on their EXR demosaicing routines. So I would assume the same to be true for X-Trans. demosaicing. Knowing that Adobe’s demosaicing even has issues with Olympus standard Bayer patterns and that X-Trans (and EXR) are still rather exotic variants I don’t wonder too much about them not putting too much time and effort into this.

        • But that lands up causing unpleasant haloes along edges with little detail on either side; it’s a mess, to be honest. Very high % but small radius looked better to my eyes, but at the expense of noise. At least it was filmic and printable, though.

          Still, neither is ideal.

          • Timur Born says:

            Small radii not only emphasize noise, which I mostly can live with in combination with some masking, but also the demosaicing artifacts. One X-Trans artifact that’s especially nasty in combination with sharpening is double edges. Consider a well defined shadow that runs diagonally from upper right to lower left. The edge of that shadow is demosaiced as a double line that becomes very apparent once it’s sharpened.

            • Yes, I noticed that. But the large-radius mushiness and lack of microcontrast was (personally) much worse. I can live with grain/noise; wouldn’t shoot film otherwise. But I must have my microcontrast.

              • Timur Born says:

                I am with you on this, often pushing the detail slider to silly numbers for microcontrast while pulling back the sharpening slider to do away with edge sharpening halos. In case of X-Trans the cameras’ JPG engine does a lot better with balancing both, though.

                One of the benefits of Bayer sensors is the widespread and mostly mature support in all kinds of software. That being said I find LR’s demosaicing of Bayer to be lacking with finest detail. LR deliberately uses BayerGreenSplit to mush up labyrinth pattern demosaicing artifacts on E-M5 raw files while other raw converters (DxO, RawTherapee) can still resolve real information out of the same areas.

                • There’s one more bit to the equation: if you can get better results out of ACR because of experience, that slews things again…I certainly haven’t been disappointed with my files at 100%.

      • Ming, will all due respect, I honestly think it’s not a fair deal to say the Fuji Xtrans image quality isn’t all that if you are not using a raw converter that shows it. While I understand you have based your workflow around Adobe products, and certainly it is a cons for those whose workflow is based on Adobe products, that should not mean at all that everyone would base their workflows around them and using something like Capture One Pro 7 is not a good workflow.

        It’s up to adobe to improve their converter. I mean, the Fuji clearly shines with Capture One Pro (or Iridient or the new Ninja raw converter for that matter) over LR/ACR any day. Even the latest version of the included for free Silky Pix does a better job.

        • I never said it wasn’t an option – I just said it was impractical for me. And I’ve always agreed: Adobe needs to do some work here. Too bad, because the rest of the workflow is so much better than the competition in both speed and flexibility.

          • Ok, fair enough though it all depends on each other’s workflows. For example, I find Aperture’s workflow better for me than lightroom (note: I am using Lightroom to deal with Q files). But that said, I see that I actually misinterpreted your comment. You were actually saying the same thing I said, I took it as you saying for a moment that you didn’t find the Xtrans sensor results in general as good as EM1’s sensor (and that was a wrong misinterpretation on my part). Sorry for that.

  58. Hi Ming,
    Tks for your initial-thought session on that. I still don’t think this camera will meet the demand for me as a journalist, I need something more responsive. But for streetlife, landscape, architecture, portraiture I think its ok.
    Currently I own an OMD EM5 after reading you review last year, and after reading your 3-part review on the EM1 I think I will grab this beast by the year-end for more serious work relating to fast-moving subjects, something I’m mostly relying on pre-focusing at one specific point and wishing the subject will get there ASAP with my EM5.
    Regarding the new Sony FF, I found that the A7 has less metal parts – only the top and the chassis built around the lens mount, while the 7R has a frontal magnesium ‘armor’ to handle heavy zoom lens, according to Sony Australia technician.
    So it strange to me, while I think no journalists need the well-built 7r with huge pixel count, the more appropriate choice – 24mp A7 with PDAF and higher burst rate – is said to be moisture shield only. Still don’t get the point Sony churn out two different version with such approaches.
    One more thing, only future FE zoom lens – FE stands for sony FF E-mount lens – will have OSS, not fix FE lens, so to shoot it you have to shoot at high speed, or high ISO, to get sharp result, or mount on tripod as you already mention to get that at slower shutter speed. I dont think this make the camera as world’s first compact mirrorless FF as Sony claim – it should be world’s first compact mirrorless FF body only.

  59. Ming. Thanks for useful info.

    My wife has been shooting with a X-pro1 for just over a year. She absolutely has to use a soft release button to get satisfactory feel (for her) to the shutter button. Such a cheap and simple fix, and so effective. I wonder if it is the same for the xe2?

    And, as usual: WONDERFUL images. Thanks!
    Jan

    • Quite possibly so; can’t check since the camera went home already. But it begs the question: why not just make the button like that in the first place?

      • Well, that would certainly be a first in the camera world. Has anybody ever done that? And if so: why? You would no longer be able to use a cable release… so why not just go with a modern, un-threaded shutter button if that was the case?

        But to each his own. We both made the switch from film last year (Nikon FA in her case) so auto-focus speed was never a problem for us. It is all good. And personally, I like the feel of that shutter, it works for me. That is why I was wondering if this happens to be the same actual button.

        Jan

  60. How can you compare IQ of an APS to a m4/3? OK so you don’t like Fuji.

    • I didn’t say anything about IQ because this is not a final camera.

      And it’s quite easy to compare: the APSC sensor isn’t that much larger. If I didn’t like Fuji, I a) wouldn’t shoot their film pretty much exclusively, and b) waste several days of my time trying out the system. I don’t have to, and I certainly don’t do it to be abused and accused!

      • I apologize if I am rude. But APS sensor size divided by m4/3 is 1.64 times larger in area. I get clean ISO 6400 from APS but from m4/3 more like ISO 2500. Now your experience with Fuji film is (in my opinion) irrelevant, film has nothing to do with digital. IQ of a larger sensor brings subtle improvements that many appreciate, and those that do not (to me) are like m4/3 users that don’t think AF speed of a m4/3 is important. There are clear benefits to APS-C size, and I saw not one compliment to that, and that is the heart of a review of a Fuji X. In good light most cameras will do. In dim light the sensor size is critical. Now Ming you know a lot more than I do but to me Fuji APS-C is “sublime” and m4/3 is “competent.”

        • It came across as being rude.

          Sensor size: all other things being equal, yes. But things are not equal: workflow matters hugely, and is still a disaster with Fuji sensors. This means that there’s much less difference visible in final output quality. Does the best of APS-C eclipse M4/3? Yes; the GR is a significant step up from the E-M5. The E-M1 comes closer, but the GR is still decidedly better. But looking at raw files from the X-E1 and X100s via every converter I’ve used – I am not considering the X-E2 because firmware is not final, and that would not be fair – I don’t see that much of a difference under the circumstances for which I’d use these cameras. If I’ve got to spend significantly longer postprocessing or waiting for software to convert things, that’s a no-go for me. I just don’t have the time for that.

          • I agree that X-trans is a mistake for Fuji. People love the X100. Some X-A1 samples also look great. I wish Fuji went back to the X100 sensor types. Now people praise X-trans jpegs. I personally find the dark areas too pronounced.

            • It was a good idea. Support, or lack of it, was the mistake – release the damn codec to Adobe already; the theoretical potential of that sensor layout is much higher than Bayer. The problem is that if you can’t desmosaic it properly, you land up with odd artefacts, loose edges, and generally worse image quality than a well-executed Bayer conversion. It’s this reason I say M4/3 challenges the X-system on practical usability…

              • I couldn’t agree more. While I don’t have a M4/3 camera these processing issues make the Fuji X-Trans cameras an exercise in aggravation. The Fuji X-E1 was supposed to be my high quality take anywhere camera to use when I wasn’t using my large Nikon system, but it can’t really serve that purpose effectively for me because, while it is fun to use, it is not even close to fun to work on the images. With it being my backup relaxing camera it just doesn’t make sense for me to have to deviate my workflow from my Nikon workflow JUST for the Fuji. The results aren’t so good as to justify that.

                I have a love/hate with these things and will probably sell mine. I think I may just get the A7 and use my 35mm and 50mm M mount lenses on it and that will be my smaller camera and be done with it.

                The EM-1 certainly caught my eye, but since I already have M lenses I thought I may just get the A7 and use those I guess.

              • Adobe have had it for a long time, they’re just useless ;) I switched from LR to CaptureOne.

              • Hi Ming. Very nice preview, well considered. Seems that I have read Capture One can process X-trans raw files with very good results, but Lightroom is my workflow right now. That said, supposedly there were major improvements from Adobe earlier this year? that fixed most of the X-trans raw issues.

          • Tom Applegate says:

            Thanks for your review. The size of the sensor is becoming irrelevant as long as the lenses are built for the size. Digital cameras are electronics, and electronics get better, cheaper, and smaller as time advances. Look at the progression of cameras from the past needed to produce good photographs. 16×20, 8×10, 5×7, 4×4, 21/4x 21/4 on down. Today it’s very hard to distinguish, if not imposable, to look at a very large photo and tell what size sensor was used to take the photograph. I shoot Canon pro cameras with the good L glass. I picked up a X-E1 (with some primes) for every day carry. All I can say, I was blown away with the optical performance.
            If you can’t see the difference between a full frame or APS size 16X20 print, why shoot a bigger and heavier camera? In a few years when they fix the focus speed problems, plus get some good long telephotos, my DSLR will be going onto eBay.

            • There isn’t that much linear resolution difference between the highest MP Canons and the Fuji. To the D800E it’s a bit of a different story.

              At 16×20, you can tell the difference – providing you have a good print, all other things being equal…

      • Nicely handled Ming.As always a very enjoyable read

  61. Ming, I attribute it to you being an excellent photographer first and foremost. I just want to say whenever you do a review I’m always excited as I think your images are bar none the best images for camera reviews on the planet.

    Heck not considering the fact that these are camera review images, they are outstanding anyway.

    Thanks again for the review :)

    • Thanks. I don’t believe in publishing anything that doesn’t meet my normal standards – images are too easily taken out of context and thought of as representative of the photographer, which might land up being a disaster in the future…

    • TheNeverKings says:

      Agreed. It is always a pleasure to “view” Ming’s reviews etc. And let’s not forget the intelligent, articulate content! Thanks Ming.

  62. Rain Santiago says:

    Thank you Ming for the review I love the photos and your Flickr series on Intramuros, I know you only stayed in Manila for a day but how’d you rank it in terms of Photo friendliness and Photo opportunities.

  63. Timely, balanced and well written as always. I’ve owned a X-100, X-E1 and X-Pro1 and loved and hated them in equal proportion. One of the quirky issues you do not mention is the inability to see an accurate histogram when M focus is selected. It works fine in S and C modes but not M. Somehow this is typical of Fuji – many things seem half baked in these cameras and the firmware updates are vital to fix obviously poorly executed design.

  64. Hey Ming, a thoughtful review, as always, thank you. Question: The XE1 is $999 (with kit lens), would you pass and purchase the XE2?

    • Not a review, because there’s no assessment of image quality yet – non-final FW. I wanted to try the system out.

      Definitely get this over the X-E1; there are a lot of incremental but meaningful upgrades.

Trackbacks

  1. […] OM-D E-M1. Едно много интересно ревю на известния фотограф Ming Thein за този уникален […]

  2. […] The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year's popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn't the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping fo…  […]

  3. […] hier gibt es eine interessante Vorschau auf die X-E2 Preview: The 2013 Fujifilm X-E2 […]

  4. […] The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year’s popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn’t the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping for, but it’s a significant enough update – for those who had issues with AF speed at least – to warrant serious consideration. In fact, I was sent a list of 61 improvements the X-E2 carries; some new to the camera, some inherited from the X-M1 and others from the X100s. I personally have had a rather inconsistent experience with Fujifilm products; on one hand, I absolutely love their films – Acros is my mainstay in all formats – but was left highly expectant and then disappointed by several cameras, first the original X100, then the X-Pro1, the XF1 and finally the X20. These are cameras I wanted to love, but found lacking in several areas; ultimately, I landed up with M4/3 as my compact system choice due to maturity of cameras and lenses. Many have asked why I don’t seriously consider the X system; I was offered a pre-production prototype by Fujifilm Malaysia, and I cleared a few days in the schedule to seriously revisit the system.  […]

  5. […] The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year's popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn't the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping fo…  […]

  6. […] The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year's popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn't the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping fo…  […]

  7. […] The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year’s popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn’t the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping for, but it’s a significant enough update – for those who had issues with AF speed at least – to warrant serious consideration. In fact, I was sent a list of 61 improvements the X-E2 carries; some new to the camera, some inherited from the X-M1 and others from the X100s. I personally have had a rather inconsistent experience with Fujifilm products; on one hand, I absolutely love their films – Acros is my mainstay in all formats – but was left highly expectant and then disappointed by several cameras, first the original X100, then the X-Pro1, the XF1 and finally the X20. These are cameras I wanted to love, but found lacking in several areas; ultimately, I landed up with M4/3 as my compact system choice due to maturity of cameras and lenses. Many have asked why I don’t seriously consider the X system; I was offered a pre-production prototype by Fujifilm Malaysia, and I cleared a few days in the schedule to seriously revisit the system  […]

  8. […] Rico’s X-Pert Corner! / ephotozine / dpreview / DSLRmagazine (Spanish) / mingthein / photoskala (German) / pocket-lint / dphotographer […]

  9. […] The Fujifilm X-E2 is a welcome update to last year's popular X-E1. The camera takes the innards of the X100s and puts them in an X-mount body; it isn't the X-Pro2 that a lot of users were hoping fo…  […]

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