Body & Design

The X-E2 is very similar in appearance to its predecessor, with a few relatively small changes. The top and front plates are made from magnesium alloy, and the top dials machined from metal; the back plate and buttons are made from plastic. The buttons are relatively large for a small camera, and positive in action. The back of the camera is dominated by the larger, higher resolution screen - it's worth noting that unlike on some competing cameras, this is fixed rather than tilting, and isn't a touchscreen.

The control philosophy is based around traditional analogue dials - the shutter speed and exposure compensation dials are on the top plate, and the aperture controlled by a ring on the lens. The back of the X-E2 is positively festooned with buttons, offering lots of direct access, including the Q button that calls up a control screen from which you can change many of the camera's settings.

The X-series has always been unashamedly focused on stills photography, with movies essentially an extra, and this hasn't changed with the X-E2. There's no direct record button, something you'll find on all of its close competitors, and video recording is accessed as a drive mode (at which point, you can no longer shoot stills). Movie mode retains many of the same limitations as the X-Pro1 and X-E1, including the inability to control the shutter speed or ISO, but gains some useful enhancements - for example it's now possible to choose a Film Simulation mode, and change exposure compensation while recording.

Top of camera

The X-E2's top plate looks almost exactly the same as the X-E1's, with shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, a power switch around the threaded shutter release button, and customizable 'Fn' button which controls ISO by default. Here you can also see the cover for the pop-up flash, and small holes for the built-in stereo microphones for movie recording, which sit in front of the hot shoe for an external flash unit.

There's a few changes here too. The exposure compensation dial extends the available range to +/-3 stops (from +/-2), and the Fn button activates the camera's built-in Wi-Fi in playback mode. The shutter speed dial has had a makeover too; it adds a '180x' position for use with external flash units, and the A position is more separated from the shutter speeds themselves, meaning you're less likely to set it to Auto (and therefore change the exposure mode) by accident.

In your hand

The X-E2 is quite small for a fully-featured camera with a built-in electronic viewfinder, but its handgrip and prominent thumb 'hook' provides a pretty secure hold even one-handed. The aperture ring on the lens encourages two-handed operation anyway, even when using a prime.

Electronic viewfinder

The X-E2's electronic finder is key to its operation, and uses the same 2.36M dot OLED panel as the X-E1. The optics are lower magnification than those used by most of Fujifilm's competitors, though, which results in a smaller viewfinder image compared to cameras like the Sony Alpha NEX-6, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, or Olympus OM-D E-M1 (although it's larger than the older OM-D E-M5). But the viewfinder optics are excellent, giving an impressively clear view into the corners of the frame, and a relatively long eye point of 23mm should make the finder comfortable for spectacle wearers.

The X-E2's EVF uses a 2.36M dot OLED panel. On the right of the eyepiece is a proximity sensor that allows the camera to switch automatically between the EVF and LCD, but the X-E1's 'View Mode' button has disappeared, meaning it's no longer possible to switch modes quickly - instead you have to dive into the menus. On the left is a diopter adjustment wheel.

One significant improvement Fujifilm claims compared to the X-E1 relates to the refresh rate in low light. Where the X-E1's finder dropped to 20 fps at 2EV, the X-E2 can now maintain 50 fps, which gives a noticeably more fluid and natural-looking live view feed. The consequent trade-off, though, is a visibly noisy viewfinder image in low light, especially when shooting with a zoom lens (as opposed to a fast prime).

Optional accessories

The X-E2 uses the same matched accessories as the X-E1. There are two handgrips, the HG-XE1 that bolts into the tripod socket (blocking access to the battery and card in the process), and the updated MHG-XE that has a cutout to give access to the baseplate compartment, and adds an Arca Swiss-compatible quick release platform. There's also the BLC-XE1 leather half-case, which has a hinged flap giving access to the memory card/battery compartment.

Handgrip HG-XE1 Handgrip MHG-XE
 
Leather case BLC-XE1  

Special mention must also be given to the X-E2's ability to use no fewer than three different types of remote release. The shutter button is threaded for an old-fashioned cable release, and the micro USB socket can accept Fujifilm's RR-90-W wired remote release - introduced with the X-M1. The 2.5mm microphone socket will also take Pentax- and Canon- compatible electronic releases with an appropriate connector, including third-party devices such as intervalometers and radio releases.